NINJA ASSASSIN (2009)

Ninjaas

Directed By: James McTeigue
Written By: Matthew Sand & J. Michael Straczynski
Story By: Matthew Sand
Cinematography By: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Editor: Gian Ganziano & Joseph Jett Sally

CAST: Rain, Rick Yune, Naomie Harris, Sung Kang

Trained since childhood to be a lethal killer, Raizo has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him and now seeks revenge for their heartless murders. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika, Raizo steadily butchers his enemies while inching ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master.

The Wachowski brothers were so impressed by Rain’s performance in Speed Racer that they were inspired to create this project for him.

Producers Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski hired J. Michael Straczynski to completely rewrite the script six weeks before filming started, as they weren’t satisfied with Matthew Sand’s original work. Straczynski finished the rewrite in 53 hours, and was studio-approved and sent to actors the same week.

Korean pop star Rain had no martial-arts experience prior to filming. He trained extensively for six months in martial arts and weapons handling with stunt and action choreographers Chad Stahelski, Peng Zhang, Jon Valera and Jonathan Eusebio as well as weights and cardiovascular workouts with personal trainers; he also went on a diet of chicken breasts and vegetables.

This is a case of a film trying way too hard to impress it’s audience and falling way short.

The plot is so thin and is obviously only an excuse to set up more and more fight/Action sequences that are not impressive. Due to the fact that they are very dark and confusing at times. They also tend to depend more on bladed weapons and 20 people attacking at once on one guy. Instead of some memorable one on one fights. As the hero dispatches them all it all becomes a blur, impersonal and a pool of CGI Blood.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I prefer to see personal fighting hand to hand battle maybe I’ll settle for weapons sometimes as long as is one on one or it could be many as long as he battles them more individually, but the thinking here is the more the merrier.

The film sticks to the coda of many classic martial arts films of showing the pain of training and what the hero went through to become such a badass, but it feels shallow as do the scenes of his training on his own modern day. It’s meant to impress the audience. It comes off more as indulgent. –I like the fact that the filmmakers didn’t tack on a love story with the woman he is trying to protect. Though at times their exchanges do leave you rolling your eyes.

The film is gory and tries to make it shocking, but it more comes across as excessive and unnecessary, but that seems to be it’s hook.

It’s a film that if it was based on a videogame. It would achieve it’s goal, but it is a movie that feels like a video game and comes across as synthetic as one too. I’m actually shocked the film went for a hard R rating. As it seems like this would be aimed at teens and would just release an unrated version on DVD.

It’s the film equivalent of a quickie as everything other then the fight scenes everything else seems that it is done half-assed and as a afterthought.

In some Unamed Country the supporting cast has different European accents and the asian all speak to each other in English instead of their native language. Evidenced in heavy accents and the final battle is ridiculous

Director James McTeigue cited the crime thrillers Panic in the Streets, The Getaway and Badlands and the martial arts features Ninja Scroll and Samurai Champloo as influences for the film.

SPOILERS

As the hero gets his butt kicked by his nemesis using old disappearing tricks until it looks like the hero is about to die. Then he reveals he knows the trick too then finally defeats his nemesis and when an ambulance comes around even though he has gaping open wounds they bypass him for people who have mere scratches or bumps on the head.

SPOILERS END

I will give it credit to say it has style, but that’s about it. Everything else is generic.

Unless you are a gamer I would advise, Skip it

GRADE: F

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