STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
- Deleted Scenes
A modern ninja movie that will bring the genre back to life. Awesome, right? Wrong.
Cast: Rain, Naomie Harris. Director: James McTeigue. Producers: The Wachowski’s, Joel Silver
Raizo (Rain) has been raised and trained to be a master ninja, but after his girlfriend is killed for trying to escape the Ninja School, he turns his back on his master and his clan. Now living in Europe, Raizo helps a Europol agent named Mika (Naomie Harris) when she is targeted by the clan for investigating them. Or something.
How hard could it be to make a ninja movie? That’s what I asked myself when the critics were having their way with Ninja Assassin upon its release. I mean, no one’s going to see this thing for the plot or acting. They want to see some ninjas fight, some blood spurt and some people get assassinated. Unfortunately, the creators behind Ninja Assassin thought that’s all they needed to make a fun ninja movie as well, but they, and I, were wrong… so very wrong.
Before you begin your Ninja training, always remember to take a Crisco bath.
Ninja Assassin opens with a cheesy and very bloody sequence where a bunch of thugs are warned by an old man about the dangers of running afoul of a ninja… right before they’re brutally murdered by one. It’s stupid, it’s gory and it’s pretty fun. Had the rest of the movie maintained that tone, the film would have been– to a degree– a success, but it doesn’t. It takes itself entirely too seriously and spends too much time setting up the Europol agents and Raizo’s origin story, both of which we’ve seen a million times before. What’s worse, it takes about 40 minutes to get to the real plot of the film, which is about as threadbare and stupid a plot as I’ve ever seen.
Never mix your whites with your corpses.
The main problem of the film, however, is that the action is just simply not very exciting and, at times, downright indecipherable. There’s a fight scene with two ninjas in all black fighting in the dark with only a flashlight for illumination. Suffice it to say, it’s confusing. There’s a quick flashback of Raizo’s first assassination in a bathroom that’s brutal and bloody and a massive ninja fight in the middle of a busy street that is a good amount of fun, but, for a movie that devotes a lot of it’s running time to fighting, there’s an embarrassingly low good-to-bad action ratio.
The toughest class in Ninja school is Annie Lennox Music Appreciation.
Another massive problem is that all of the blood in the film is horrible-looking CGI shit that makes the film feel much tamer than intended. If cheap-y horror films from the ’70’s could use fake blood, a decently budgeted action flick in the 21st century should, too. Also, the film does a terrible job building the myth of the ninjas and gives them magical abilities. Raizo heals a gaping wound in his stomach by doing some fancy hand-signals, and the ninjas can just disappear from plain sight when they want to by moving really fast. Seriously.
In the modern age, the term “buckets of blood” is replaced with “pixels of blood”.
It also doesn’t help that the film’s leading man has about as much charisma as a blank sheet of paper. Sure, he sells the fight scenes and acrobatics well enough, but he’s a total blank in any scene where he’s not killing someone. This leaves poor Naomie Harris struggling to inject some personality into the film, but that’s a challenge with the script they’re handed. There’s no actor alive that could make the wooden dialogue come to life. (Example: Girl: “Everything has a heart”, Raizo: “I don’t”.)
By the time the film’s action climax occurs, I was so bored and disinterested I didn’t care who won, just as long as it was over soon. I went in not expecting much, but Ninja Assassin managed to sink far below my expectations. It’s an even greater failure when you look at the team behind the camera, but I won’t use that as another reason why the film fails. There’s enough already.
The only special feature is 7-minutes of deleted scenes. They’re mostly extensions of scenes already in the movie and show no signs that a good movie was left on the cutting room floor. Also, for some reason, Naomie Harris speaks with her real British accent in them.