Posts Tagged ‘Ninja Assassin’


2009_ninja_assassin_wallpaper_003If you are the type of person who would go see a movie called “Ninja Assassin” then you’ll probably enjoy “Ninja Assassin,” and judging by the audience I saw it with, ditto if you own a UFC jacket.

Like all great ninja movies “Ninja Assassin” (maybe the best movie title this year) is about revenge. Raised by the Ozunu Clan on a ninja farm run by the evil master (Shô Kosugi) Raizo (Korean pop star Rain) breaks free from his clan after the brutal murder of one of his fellow ninja disciples. He spends his days training and plotting revenge. Meanwhile in Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) is tracking a series of ninja murders that seem to be linked to the Ozunu Clan. Together they may be able to take down the evil ninjas, exacting justice and revenge!

“Ninja Assassin” is an amplified version of the cheapo ninja films of the 1980s. It has all the earmarks of the classics of the genre like “Enter the Ninja” and “Pray for Death,” that is: stiff acting, loads of mysticism, slow motion fight scenes, a simplistic good vs. evil plot and buckets of blood. In fact the blood budget on “Ninja Assassin” could finance well, dozens of other, more worthwhile endeavors. The special effects are better than in the earlier films, but for all intents and purposes this could be a relic from the heyday of ninjitsu flicks. It even co-stars Shô Kosugi, the godfather of the modern ninja film.

The term slice-and-dice hardly does the carnage on display in “Ninja Assassin” justice.  There are more blades flying here than in that Slap Chop infomercial with the Shamwow guy. The first unbelievably bloody killing happens about three minutes in and is followed by a body count that would make Rambo envious.

Go for the action, which is pretty much state-of-the-ninja-art. There’s nothing here that rivals Quentin Tarantino’s House of the Blue Leaves sequence in “Kill Bill” for sheer manic fun, but when the throwing stars are flying and the blood is squirting, “Ninja Assassin” is a lot a hoot, it’s only when the characters start talking that things get dull. Partly it’s the wooden acting, but mostly it’s because the screenwriters feel they have to over-explain everything. When Raizo helps Mika escape from the marauding ninjas heading her way, he explains they can follow her scent. He tells her to undress, shower without soap and change into new clothes. It’s pretty clear what’s happening, but in the world of “Ninja Assassin” his obvious instructions lead her to ask, “This is for our scent, right?” Yes genius, it is. Everyone in the theatre knew and so should you.

It’s a dark movie—both in tone and visually—but there is the odd laugh here and there. There are visual ninja jokes—a car parked at a no-tell motel parking lot, riddled with dozens of throwing stars, is hilarious—and when a government official says of Raizo, “He doesn’t look like a killing machine to me, he looks like he belongs in a boy band,” it raises a laugh given star Rain’s background as a pop star.

Despite some silly dialogue and low light action—ninjas exist in the shadows, we’re told, so all the fight scenes are shot in the dark and it is sometimes hard to tell what is going on—“Ninja Assassin” is bloody good fun, emphasis on the bloody.

Ninja films are a gold mine of great actions In Focus by Richard Crouse FOR METRO CANADA November 27, 2009

ninja-sho-kosugiIf the name Shô Kosugi doesn’t conjure up images of whirling nunchucks or twirling throwing stars then your knowledge of ninja films probably doesn’t extend much further than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kosugi is the godfather of the modern ninja film, a Japanese martial artist who, during the 1980s, used his mad ninjitsu skills to battle every movie bad guy from evil terrorists to Mafia thugs and even possessed break dancers. When the “invisible warrior” craze petered out in the early 90s Kosugi became a star on Japanese TV and created a workout regimen called Ninjaerobics. This weekend, however, he returns to the big screen in Ninja Assassin, playing Ozunu, head of a dangerous cult that turns orphans into blood thirsty killing machines.

The movie that kicked off ninja mania was 1981’s Enter the Ninja, a wild b-movie that features nineteen minutes of hardcore ninja action in the first twenty minutes. Kosugi is an evil ninja hired to take down a virtuous “white ninja” (Franco Nero, who didn’t do any of his own fight scenes), who is protecting a friend’s Philippine plantation. The body count is high—36 people get ninjaed, including one security guard who falls victim to the dreaded “mosquito spikes”—and even though the acting is terrible and the jokes a little flat it has, nonetheless, been described by one ninja fan as “fantastic crap.”

Probably the most outlandish of the original 80s wave of ninja flicks is Ninja III: The Domination, which features a lead character described as completely normal, aside from her “exceptional extrasensory perception and preoccupation with Japanese culture.” In this one an evil ninja attempts to avenge his death from beyond the grave, by possessing an innocent woman’s body. Ninja III is packed with cool stunts—a throwing star is tossed by some very limber ninja toes—and we learn that a ninja can transfer his soul through his sword to another person.

Besides outrageous ninja action the only thing these movies have in common is stiff acting, but acting isn’t why you buy a ticket to see a movie called Rage of Honor. If you want good acting look up Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but if you want to see a ninja take on a pick-up truck and win or slice a bad guy in half (sending his legs to and his torso fro) then Shô Kosugi is your man.