Movie Review: Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin
Directed by James McTeigue
Written by Matthew Sand and J Michael Straczynski
Starring Rain, Naomie Harris, Sho Kosugi
Rated R
Release Date: November 25, 2009

When I chose to review Ninja Assassin, I knew it would entertain me on some level just by the name alone. I mean, how can you mess up something like Ninja Assassin? Other than Hot Librarian or Free Wi-Fi, no two words in the English language have ever been more of a perfect fit for one another. Good or bad, it has to be fun to watch, at least on a primal, blood-letting level.

Raizo (Rain) is one angry ninja and who can blame him? First, he is kidnapped at a young age by the mysterious Ozunu Clan and trained to be a silent, death-dealing assassin for hire. Then, just when he decides to forgo killing a person at the request of his master, his clan turns their back on him and leaves him for dead. With revenge on his mind and the aid of a government agent (Naomie Harris), Raizo seeks to destroy his Clan and the Master who he once called family.

The story, written by Matthew Sand and J Michael Straczynski, provides an interesting dose of Japanese-style violence with the standard “lone wolf experiences love and loss” flashbacks into Raizo’s past. The fleshed out back-story is necessary for viewers who feel unfulfilled without one but is not needed. If you are watching a movie named Ninja Assassin, story and plot is not high on your list. Like this reviewer, you want to know if the movie delivers with their action sequences, and deliver it does, with bloody gusto.

The blood-letting starts right in the beginning with an assassination attempt and never lets up. Often visually stunning or brutally quick (but always bloody and gory), the action sequences go straight for the throat. The movie provides a healthy medium between stylized zoom in/zoom out martial arts action and dirty, street fighting fist-to-cuffs. The overuse of CGI blood is a little much and often too comical, but the sheer brutality of each fight should make up for it.

Rain, headlining his first feature movie, does a pretty decent job as the titular character. While he rolls off his dialogue like an Asian Antonio Banderas, you can see his potential in every scene he is in. You wouldn’t expect a lot of pop singers look as comfortable as he does kicking butt, but he does this with style, thanks in part to his sparse dialogue. He certainly has the look of a movie star and bulked up considerably to fill a ninja role convincingly. It’s no wonder that the Wachowski Bros., who are also producers of the film, would want to create a film around him.

As 2009 quickly comes to an end, I was getting a little bit worried that there was not a movie out there that would satisfy my need for escapism and bloody cartoon-like violence. Thankfully, Ninja Assassin silently appeared and unleashed martial art moves that blew my synapses. If you are a fan of ultra cool popcorn movies or ninjas, Ninja Assassin is just what the doctor ordered.


  1. The movie also makes you very aware of how unprepared you are for the impending ninja takeover. I’ve been spurred into action.

    Comment by Holly — November 29, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  2. WOW….just wow… i went into this movie completely excited only to leave in disappointment. TERRIBLE SCRIPT, which should be forgivable because of awesome fight scenes that never appear. The majority of the movie is too dark to and cut too quickly to see what is going on in the fight scenes….when are american directors going to learn how to film a martial arts fight scene. Watch the classics like Jackie Chan, jet lee, and samo hung. Create good fight choreography and let it speak for itself….a great fight scene doesnt need to be cut and edited into half second cuts. Not to mention for a ninja movie they should have spent more time on the ninja and less on idiot “Europol”!

    Comment by jon — November 30, 2009 @ 9:00 am

  3. oh, hell to all these complainers about scripts, who, with a ounce of wit goes to see a movie called Ninja Assassin and dutifully sits nit picking the script? the name of this film tells u what you’re going to get before you even enter. ACTION, ACTION AND MORE ACTION. all of the interviews at permiers focused on the action of the film. it was that from the beginning to end. Best martial arts film i’ve seen in a long time. i was tired of characters floating on trees, fighting that resulted in no bones being broken, no blood being spilled no down right kill. yes, the scenes were dark, but do ninjas fight in daylight?? the dark grab is worn to blend into the night. the fight scenes should be fast, that’s what ninjas do, move in fast and move out, (if your mind doesn’t move along fast enough to keep up, then this is not the film for you) the only thing left is the devastation. This film takes martical arts to the next level for a new generation.

    Comment by my take — December 2, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  4. Um, this movie was fantastic. I was looking for a film to revisit the classic CANON ninja films of the 80s featuring Sho Kosugi and this lived up to those classics. I wasn’t expecting (to quote Jon above) fight choreography of the likes of Samo, Jackie, Jet (the main streamers Jon dropped to sound like he knows his sh!t) or more of the HK legends (do your homework jon) like Wei Wen-Chen, Sheng Fu, or Tien-chi Cheng who were featured in many of Cheh Chang’s films for the Shaw Bros… no, I wanted a return of REVENGE OF THE NINJA – ninjas doing cool shit, and this film delivered.

    Geez, looking at some of these complaints, people have forgotten what a good action popcorn flick is for. It isn’t attempting to win an oscar for beautiful prose or cinematography… people need to pull the sticks out of their holier than thou asses.

    Comment by Daigoji Gai — December 2, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

  5. […] Movie Review: Ninja Assassin (geeksofdoom.com) […]

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