on 13 December 2014
REVIEWED VERSION: 2010 Warner Bros. US Blu-Ray
Director: James McTeigue
Cast: Rain, Ben Miles, Naomie Harris, Sung Kang, Yuki Iwamoto, Linh Dan Pham
Production: US/Germany 2009
The Ozunu clan is abducting children and turning them into assassins, one of them is Raizo (Rain), who eventually turns his back on the clan, after some of his friends are murdered by the clan. He ends up not only being hunted by the vengeful Ozunu clan, but also by Europol investigators
Maslow (Ben Miles) and Mika (Naomie Harris), as he leaves a bloody trail through Berlin, Germany, closing in on his former sensei.
THE PROS & CONS
NINJA ASSASSIN is in my opinion a masterpiece in the ninja genre. A very Americanized ninja movie, but a masterpiece nonetheless.
Yes, it features unrealistic over the top CGI gore and splatter effects, but it works as long as you do not take it too seriously and enjoy it for what it is - a great action movie.
Never mind that most actors playing the ninjas are Korean or of Korean descent rather than Japanese, they all do a decent job. Rain as Raizo is pretty good, not an Oscar-worthy performance, but that's not what action movies are all about, now is it. His martial arts performance looks great however and I prefer seeing him than Iko Uwais in THE RAID.
British actress Naomie Harris does much better as Europol agent Mika. I also liked Ben Miles as Maslow, both agents give believable performances and are well-cast.
The fight choreography is superb and the fight scenes look amazing, so is the excellent cinematography by Karl Walter Lindenlaub, especially the scenes in the dojo.
NINJA ASSASSIN is the second film by director James McTeigue, whose debut was V FOR VENDETTA. I like his style here, well-paced and action-packed, but the story (by Matthew Sand, screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski and Matthew Sand) does not take the back seat.
I liked the way the ninjas are portrayed - just like shadows with much mysticism, bordering on the supernatural (like I said before, do not take this film too seriously!).
I really enjoyed NINJA ASSASSIN and if you are into this genre, I am sure you will LOVE this film.
ON A SIDE NOTE
- produced by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (THE MATRIX)
- J. Michael Straczynski (creator of BABYLON 5) co-wrote the screenplay. He was hired by the Wachowskis to completely rewrite the script six weeks before filming started because they were not satisfied with the original script
- Rain was a Korean pop star and had no martial arts training prior to NINJA ASSASSIN
- the fight scenes were staged without wires or digital finetuning except for shadow-blending VFX
Feature running time: 98:40 mins. (uncut)
Rating: R (MPAA) / 18 (BBFC)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 / 16:9
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 , French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: The Myth and Legend of Ninjas Featurette (18:56), The Extreme Sport of a Ninja (10:07), Training Rain (9:52), Deleted Scenes (7:43), Warner Bros. BD Live Feature, Trailers to other movies
Region: Region Free
Picture quality: 4/5
Audio quality: 4/5
The picture is sharp and detailed and looks great, albeit not flawless. Great DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 fares slightly better and is quite impressive.
There are three featurettes which are interesting for one-time viewing and the 7 mins. of deleted scenes, but overall the extras fail to impress.
A good quality blu-ray nonetheless.
As a no-brainer action flick and visual spectacle, Ninja Assassin is a cut above above other sword wielding martial arts films.
The film is very gory - delighting in over top, gushing blood, and limb and body part severing. In fact, the opening scene made both my flat mate and I jump out of our skins. In some ways in fact, this is almost some sort of martial arts horror; with the way the ninja hide in the dark and then pounce, delivering scares, and the afore mentioned gallons of blood.
Aside from the gore, Ninja Assassin is just an all out martial arts action. There is a lose sort of detective story and back story going on throughout the film, but really it's just all about the action - of which there's plenty, and which is pretty good too.
The fight scenes aren't outstanding technically, but they are dramatic and over the top in a sort of Hollywood way: with CGI effects used on weapons, and to create visually satisfying shots, splattering blood, and dramatic decapitations - that sort of thing. And as for the use of weapons, it's much more a martial arts film where steel is the focus as opposed to feet and fists, and the array of ninja weapons used are cool to watch.
Blu-Ray provides the perfect platform for all these effects. My copy was crisp, clean, and great to watch - giving you a chance to really take in all the effects and fights - even though a lot of them happened at night or in the dark. The colours were vibrant in the opening scene and in the monastery flashback scenes, and all in all, I think this format really compliments the film.
The acting leaves a lot to be desired but it's bearable. And I'm not sure if it was more down to the director, rather than the actors themselves, as all the cast seemed to be suffering from the same bad acting disease. The main character and his ninja lord do have a case for being a bit emotionless and stiff on screen though, as all during `training' it was drummed into them to be emotionless. It makes killing easier, see.
Ninja Assassins isn't the best martial arts film out there by a long shot. By a looooooong shot, but... it might be the best action-packed-no-holds-barred-hold-onto-you-seat-chain-weilding-gore-fest-martial-arts-flick about. So if you enjoy martial arts films and want a film that mixes something like `The Marine' and `IP Man' this could be for you.
I enjoyed it. My flat mate loved every second of it. I'm stuck between giving it 3 and 4 stars. I think it deserves about 3.5... overall, I'd score it at about 7/10. I'll be watching it again.
If this review was helpful please give it the thumbs up - if not, comment on why so I can do a better job for you next time. Thanks :-)
on 12 July 2010
I've read quite a few of the reviews on this site and have to say it never ceases to amaze me what people expect why they buy a move like this. Just so we are clear, the film is called 'Ninja Assassin' and its about a secret society of ninja's who carry out assassinations for 100lbs of gold, and then I read reviews saying 'you have to suspend belief...' - you don't say!! It is not meant to be a true story and quite frankly if you bought this thinking it had any kind of basis in fact or you were looking for something deep and meaningful then more fool you, I would suggest you read the product description a little more carefully in the future.
Its not going to win any oscars and I fully understand that it wont be to everyones liking but I think its grossly unfair when people award 1 and 2 stars just because they failed to realise what the movie was about prior to watching it. My 5 stars may well be a little generous but I just wanted to balance the scales a little bit.
All I would say is that if you liked the scene in Kill Bill (volume 2 I think) when Uma chops limbs off left, right and centre in the restaurant then this is probably for you as the violence is not dissimilar although perhaps even a little more blood thirsty. As far as I am concerned its a good switch off movie to stick on when you've had a few beers and if thats you're kind of thing you'll love it, if you want something 'believable' then perhaps look elsewhere.
If you like martial arts movies you should love this one and especially on blu ray.
This movie is about a clan of ninjas who are trained from children for one reason, to become the ultimate assassins for hire.
Without spoiling it for you. . . .one of them escapes as he's sick of the life he's being forced to live but it's one of those once you're in you can never leave efforts! A bit like where I work :)
So, present day and he's an adult and still being chased down by the ninja clan he left! They never give up.The visual and audio CGI fest on bluray is brilliant. Whack your speakers up and prepare to duck, dive and dodge the hundreds of whizzing shurikens, Katanas, knives and Kurasigama (which he is rather tasty with!) and every other martial arts weapon you could ever think of! All great stuff indeed!
The speed and skill and stunts involved in the fight scenes and the number of combatants at any one time, ie-the bloke versus all the ninjas, is fantastic (in my opinion).
A great movie, you won't be dissapointed.
on 29 May 2010
Other reviews have done an excellent job on this so far to paint it as the high speed action fed story you come to expect from movies such as The Transporter. This is the Asian-fuelled equivalent, blended with a little bit of Commando (Arnie in the 80's) and a bucketload of stylised gorey action straight from The Matrix and V for Vendetta.
The action scenes are a good mix of wire fighting, and stylised kung fu infused with a few recognisible Ninja traits such as the throwing stars - and there's plenty of them. Not the most believable, but enjoyably hectic all the same.
Dialogue isn't fantastic, and the plot isn't particularly novel, but it's enough to form a solid background for the star of the show to strut his stuff. Korean Jung Ji-Hoon (or "Rain") is that star - and is suitably ripped to play the role of the uniquely skilled lead.
Downers: combat speed, darkness, and general arrangement during action sequences can leave you very disorientated as to who is where, what and when. The speech in the movie is also not the best, with a mix of accents that are sometimes hard to discern.
If you enjoyed the first Matrix film, Kill Bill, or Jet li, this is definitely a movie for you - just don't expect any great wisdom.
on 19 October 2014
I wasn't expecting anything, I've become so jaded with films, that I really go in with zero expectations anymore.
I only want one thing from my movie, and that's to be entertained. Any time the movie starts making stupid mistakes, insulting my intelligence, that entertainment is lessened. Poor scripts, boring dialogue, bad acting are just some of the things that ruin so many films these days.
Action movies just seldom have any of the hard to put your finger on magic of the 70s and 80s action movies. Sometimes these managed, despite some bad dialogue and less than stellar acting, still turn out to be hugely entertaining.
This movie, reminds me of the good old days. Yes, so some of the dialogue leaves a little to be desired, but fortunately, there really isn't a whole lot of it, enough to just provide what's needed to convey the story.
Yes this is a story that's been done before, but damn it, it's one of those ones that gets you behind the protagonist and wanting to see a just demise for the antagonist.
And that's it essentially I think. So many much higher budget movies, provide poor actors with poorer dialogue, and you simply just don't care what happens to anyone. Worst case scenario, not only do you not care about the protagonist, you don't even care about rooting for the antagonist either, and when cast members are summarily offed, you couldn't care less.
Thankfully, in this movie, yes some mediocre acting is involved, but the ones that matter, specifically the two that matter, I DID care about, and I did want to see someone get his, and someone else be the one to ensure it happened.
Every time something with a sharp edge, or pointy tip connects with something that isn't indestructible, it's an over the top joy to behold, just like the good old days, only here, done in a somehow more believable fashion. I say "somehow", because you and I both know, that if a splinter gets in your toe, it doesn't bleed in a manner that has you fearing for your life. Every time a flesh wound is inflicted, blood flies like a major artery was opened up. Every time a shuriken misses it's target and hits a wooden post, that post splinters apart, sending deadly wooden projectiles that look like they may do the job the shuriken set out to do.
Limbs are severed cleanly, with a satisfying fire hose worth of blood, heads fly and even torsos separated from the rest of the body. Because it doesn't focus on any of the mutilations occurring for more than a split second (due to the fact that so many happen so very quickly during any given fight scene), the high level of gore somehow doesn't seem unnecessary. It's all just a gloriously over the top action movie, and I WAS ENTERTAINED!
I loved it. What's not to like? There's ninjas, blood, more ninjas, more blood, some kind of plot involving a lot of ninjas over the last 1,000 years, flying limbs, flying scenery, flying blood, shurikens, swords, chains with knives on the end and ninjas.
If that's not enough to persuade you to give it a look, then I don't even know why you are reading this, since in the title, it's pretty clear that this movie may include something about a ninja. It is aptly titled.
on 9 October 2011
I was a little worried what to expect from this. After a lot of trailer 'awareness' and fanfare about it being co-produced by the Wachowskis, who created 'The Matrix', it seemed to then disappear without trace - something that tends to indicate bad reviews or audience dislike.
Within 5 minutes I was wondering why I hadn't heard a lot more about it after its release, instead of before; it opens with a striking sequence that sticks in the memory as much for its unexpectedly breathtaking gore as for its bravura and impressive directing. It's flashy as hell, in short. The rest of the film is equally impressive visually, and what's nicer is that more attention has been paid to the characters and their roles than normal for an action film. As a result even the 'Europol' investigators hunting modern-day ninjas in the story's nice fusion of old and new get much better characterisation and plot than expected. And the action is never far away. Not a single scene is wasted - if our main character isn't having a conversation or a flashback that illuminate his motives or an important part of his history, he's slicing and dicing evil enemies in spectacular ways.
Nicely, Asian cinema star Rain is a hero you can root for despite the many brutal things his character does, and Naomie Harris is decent as the Europol investigator who gets rapidly out of her depth.
The film does a fantastic job of making Ninjas seem genuinely frightening and lethal, while self-referentially acknowledging several times that its plot is a slightly crazy idea. Luckily the plot is played arrow-straight, which helps it feel more believable.
This is not a film for those who don't like to see kids or women harmed - there's a lot of brutality shared out regardless of age or gender. It's also not a film for the squeaming - blood is everywhere, as are severed limbs and flying blades.
What it is, however, is definitely a film for action-hounds. The action is stupendous. The fight choreography alone is far more inventive and violent than anything I remember seeing in other mainstream Hollywood 'fight' pics, and the weapons feel inventive and deadly.
It's hard to convey the sheer sense of danger and kinetic energy as shuriken stars whisk past the screen, and blades slash through combatants in this film. The film heightens this with flashy CGI enhancements, and some of the Ninja are given slightly supernatural enhanced movement abilities for the sake of excitement and impressive visuals.
This is a film that anybody who liked 'The Warrior's Way' and the 'Matrix' trilogy is likely to enjoy as long as they don't have too much of a problem with the suspension of disbelief needed.
on 13 September 2013
Being a bit long in the tooth and having watched hundreds of films in the genre, was totally blown away by this gem. The martial arts scenes are fantastic and there is even quite a decent storyline going on with reasonable acting from the main characters, there are not many films, even big blockbusters that warrant many repeat viewings but this is definitely one. Cannot reccommend this film highly enough.
Once Monty Python's Flying Circus did a sketch where many people ended up bleeding to death from freak accidents which naturally involved gallons and gallons of fake blood. It was great in its sheer over-the-topness. Ninja Assassin follows the same path. Only this one is serious. Sort of.
It's about - surprisingly - a ninja assassin, who's on the run from both Interpol and his former teacher/clan/whatever. In fact, plot and storylines kind of take a backseat. What you have here is a bunch on ninjas hacking each other to death as violently and as bloodily as possible.
The fight scenes are great. The story is pretty weak, but what are you expecting from a film called Ninja Assassin? If you're not going to like it it's because there isn't much of a story. If, however, you just want to see some cool fight scenes and slashing people to death and the odd shower of throwing stars which fly faster than bullets, then this is the one for you.
The only way ninjas don't die here is by being impaled on a piano's keyboard (you'll have to be a `Python' to get that one!).
on 30 June 2011
... because you won't need thought to enjoy this a billiant roller-coaster ride of CGI-assisted spatter. The opening scene borrows a bit from that scene in Kill Bill where Uma takes on a roomful of sword-wielding killers and chops them all up, the story itself borrows a little from Hitman (orphan brought up to be a killer, falls out with organisation), but the action is pretty relentless and great fun. I don't know if pretty-boy pop singer Rain actually knows any martial arts moves, but he looks the part, and the excellent fighting scenes are all wonderfully choreographed. This is great value for an evening in with a beer watching fight movies: Tony Jaa is for sure more realistic, but this is more fun as a film (kidnapped elephants? Bah.)
I have a friend who has studied ninjitsu for some years, and he thinks this film is great too. it's not a bloody instruction manual, it's entertainment - like Jackie Chan but with more blood - so enjoy it as such.