Reviewed by: Katie Thomas
|Featuring:||Sung Kang, Randall Duk Kim, Jonathan Chan-Pensley, Yuki Iwamoto, Ill-Young Kim, Ben Miles, Naomie Harris, Rain, Stephen Marcus, Linh Dan Pham, Yu Fang, Adriana Altaras, Shô Kosugi, Kylie Liya Goldstein, Yoon Sungwoong, Eleonore Weisgerber, Wladimir Tarasjanz, Joon Lee, Kai Fung Rieck, Anna Sawai, Thorston Manderlay, Richard van Weyden, Mina Ghousi, Hans Hohlbein, Rick Yune, Nhi Ngoc Nguyen-Hermann, Guido Föhrweißer, Tim Williams, David Leitch, Wolfgang Stegemann, Steffen Groth, Jens Neuhaus, Patrick Pinheiro, Matthias Schendel, Johannes Ahn|
|Producer:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Silver Pictures, Anarchos Productions, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Studio Babelsberg, Translux, William Fay, Christoph Fisser, Grant Hill, Jon Jashni, Roberto Malerba, Henning Molfenter, Joel Silver, Thomas Tull, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Charlie Woebcken|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Fear not the weapon but the hand that wields it!”
“Ninja Assassin” has plenty to offer in the way of killing-sprees, but not so much as far as being even slightly interesting or original goes.
The film follows forensic researcher Mika (Naomie Harris) as she tries to uncover the mystery of the Ozunu Clan, a secret society who transforms orphans into merciless killers. Digging too deep into their history makes Mika a target of these assassins, and she teams up with Raizo (Rain), an ex-assassin who escaped the clan and has been waiting to exact his revenge.
I have to be frank and say that “Ninja Assassin” was a pain to sit through. Despite the almost constant action and fighting sequences, I found the experience dull and uninviting. It was almost like watching a series of worn out jokes, and I found myself checking the time every several minutes to find out when it would be over. Just when I thought I was watching the climax, they found a way to keep it going, exhausting every scene thereafter—and robbing and battles of their “coolness.” Don’t get me wrong, I am normally one for a good action film. But this action was unrelenting and self-indulgent.
The very least they could have done was add a hint of humor to lighten the mood, play up on the fact that this could never actually happen. There were a few moments (and by few I mean, maybe two or three) that felt like almost jokes, but took themselves way too seriously. It seemed like the director, James McTeigue, wanted to show off his neat, new CG techniques (all of which are seen to their full potential), and paid no attention to characterization, plot, or the script—thus creating an overdone jumble of special effects and a chance for the Korean pop singer, Rain, to show off.
I doubt there is any way to relay all of the violence that occurs throughout the film. It is just too extensive. Some form of physical abuse takes place about every 5 minutes, be it child abuse (or Ninja training, as they call it), one-on-one fights, or larger scale battles, the blood and slicing of human life is relentless, and often times unimpressive. It felt like there was more blood than “300” and “Sweeney Todd” combined. The moments that stand out most as far gruesomeness is concerned, are the caning and downright torture of the young Ninjas, and Raizo’s first assassination of a man in a bathroom (they stab and bash each other into every surface possible). Beyond that, it is the recycled motion of swinging weapons, slicing limbs, throwing ninja stars, jumping over one another. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The swearing in the first scene is so intense with f-words, it seems incoherent and left me terrified that it might be this way for the whole time. Fortunately, the worst of it is unleashed early on. A total of almost 20 f-words, 5 s-words, and scattered variations of “ass,” “Christ,” and “damn” were the least of my worries.
Some good can be said of this film, or, at least, the characters—however one-dimensional they appear. Raizo is continually self-sacrificing, risking himself for Mika, whom he barely knows. They are both very trusting, and see something special in the other. Raizo says that “her heart is special,” and they do all they can to protect the other from harm. One shot in particular, of Raizo completely bloodied and torn, waiting for his enemy, reminded me of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and how he gave his life to save the lives he loved. The character of Kiriko (Anna Sawai) is a lovely young ninja who reminds Raizo he has a heart, and stands up to their master, refusing to cut her fellow student for the sake of a lesson. She is truly the best part of the film.
I could not recommend this film to anyone, if there were some redeeming factor. Though I’m sure any 20-year-old with a samurai sword on his wall, and no sense of story would have a decent time at the movies, “Ninja Assassin” remains plot-less and uninventive.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: None
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