My friends and I had thought about wanting to make a ninja film just for the fun of it, and frankly when the trailer for Ninja Assassin came out, we felt the bar has been raised too high now, given the latest in fight choreography, the special animated effects with the weapons, and of course, Korean hunky mega-star Rain in the role of a stealthy assassin would have rendered whatever we thought of as useless.
But who would have thought this turned out to be more of a comedy of errors. The characters are so cardboard, and granted we aren't expecting Oscar-winning material here, but what came through was more of an insult to the genre of ninja movies. Worst, the rules of engagement were clearly violated, and in the final scene they might as well chose to nuke the whole place down, rather than to send in para-military elements. Guns versus swords? Give me a break, please.
The storyline is already explained in the trailer, where Rain's star ninja pupil Raizo turns against his assassin organization, and becomes a hunted man. But not before deciding to exact revenge for his beloved lady ninja, and thus a showdown is set up. I won't even want to go into detail what the role of Europol agents have in this film, because they're really redundant here, if not to set up the premise for one poorly shot but major action sequence that ended with that ninja being whacked aside by a spinning car trick. Erm, right.
Action wise, choreography was stunning for limited scenes, but marred mostly by the bad cinematography, especially in lighting, and in darkness you can't tell which ninja's attacking which. Though you may argue that it's the way those stealthy assassins operate, but well, if you can't work around this, the whole film might as well be shrouded in total darkness. And what's with the shaky camerawork in a chase scene down the streets, or filming the action too darned close that you don't get to see what's going on because everything's so badly framed?
It had potential to becoming an updated, contemporary ninja film, but unfortunately there's little style, and even lesser substance. What a disappointment.
You can read my review of Ninja Assassin at movieXclusive.com by clicking on the logo below.