Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Ninja Assassin

A martial arts film that tries to appeal to Western audiences like Ong-Bak did, this offering from director James McTeigue - known for being an AD on a lot of Wachowski movies - instead becomes a gore-fest you can simply live without.

The film centres on a young ninja called Raizo (played by the sensation that is Rain, named one of Time's Most Influential People In The World and one of the biggest global Eastern pop stars) who has come from a training camp where young children are taught ninja skills through what seems like a horrible amount of pain. It's kill or be killed and no-one can leave.

In a series of flashbacks, we see he falls for one of his female students and there is a bitter rivalry between him and his brother. Their father of which, leads this ninja clan. These ninja's have been around for ages and are the best in the business. But Raizo isn't all he seems...

The plot is really thread-bare thin, but it's just enough to keep it going. It does conjure up a few questions though. Why is it that Raizo's first kill of some really fat guy becomes a messy affair after so much training? Why does it suddenly go supernatural near the end? Who cares because really, it doesn't matter. If you've picked up this film, it's to watch some brains-not-included action. Which it delivers. Kind of...

Let's put it this way. It's no Ong-Bak, and not just because of the CG. The fighting scenes are good and Rain, who began his career in dancing, looks incredibly ripped, but there's a lack of real technique, instead there is a LOT of blood - and I mean a lot. But it's not the kind of blood you're used to, instead for those who watch Beat Takeshi's amazing Zaitoichi, it's more like that. Completely CG, almost too-fluid blood of a bright red colour. Like it's kids paint. But in some weird way it does work, and some of the many ways people die are fun and creative but for me, it played almost like a God Of War game - your circular knife on a chain thing just seems to kill everyone. Raizo also seems to be able to take on loads of these ninjas, but you don't know why he's that hardcore - he does well in his flashback training scenes but you wonder how tough these guys are if one of them can take out the lot.

Also the use of an English man, an American woman, a Japanese clan, Korean actors all speaking English in a Berlin setting makes this seem a bit too try-hard to appeal to everyone, and instead appeals to no-one. It feels a bit awkward at times but, as much as I might knock it, I didn't really get bored at any point - if this was a better director with some better actual fighting scenes then it could have been better, but as it was, it scrapes out of being completely awful.

Rating: 4/10

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