Ninja Assassin DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by James McTeigue
Written by Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Starring Rain, Naomie Harris, ShÃ´ Kosugi, Ben Miles, Anna Sawai
Warner Home Video
Release Date: March 16, 2010
When Ninja Assassin first made its presence known to us, it sounded like it could be one of the more entertaining flicks on its way to our eyes. Sometimes the production process is a long and trying one, however, and when the movie’s release drew near and every single commercial break had a spot advertising it, I found myself personally losing interest at an alarming rate. The movie had gone from a fun and exciting prospect to a title that had seemingly over-done it before it had even hit theaters.
This of course wasn’t the best of set-ups for someone like myself entering into a review of the movie, but it’s been multiple months now since the theatrical run, allowing the persistent advertisement efforts to wear off enough for me to jump in.
Ninja Assassin tells the story of a secret society of ninjas who inherit orphaned children and turn them into the deadliest killers the world has ever seen, paid 100 pounds of gold (or its equivalent over time) to remove people who need removing. One of these boys is Raizo (Rain), one of the most promising students that their “Father” Ozunu (ShÃ´ Kosugi) has ever seen. As time goes on, Raizo realizes that the methods used to discipline the students is a little too extreme. These views are confirmed when it comes to a fellow-student named Kiriko (Anna Sawai), whom he cares deeply for, is punished. Raizo eventually turns his back on everything he’s ever known and leaves this family of ninjas — something that they do not take too kindly to.
After his escape, Raizo is constantly on his toes, looking for possible assassins sent to collect his debt in blood. At the same time, a Europol agent named Mika (Naomie Harris) has uncovered a lead that points to this secret brotherhood of ninja assassins, which was always thought to be a myth. When she gets too close to uncovering the truth, she also becomes marked for death, leading her to team up with Raizo and stop the bloodshed once and for all.
Right off the bat you know you’re in for a bloody ride not meant for the squeamish. Within moments, my jaw had already dropped in shock multiple times at some of the ultra-violence I was witnessing. One of the reasons I was so skeptical of this movie was because a lot of the trailers made it look incredibly cheesy. At times, the violence was indeed cheesy and computer animated, but there were a handful of times where it looked incredibly realistic…especially if you find yourself watching on Blu-ray. The only way this movie stayed R-rated might have been because of said computer animated blood and violence.
Ninja Assassin is something of a nod to old martial arts and violent grindhouse films of the past. The story is there, but it is constructed on a very weak foundation and does not offer many layers. This is a lot more than you can say for most grindhouse-like movies, so the lack of a strong story is of no consequence; but if you’re seeking one out, you may be disappointed by the end. This is the same story with the writing and performances: the acting is a lot better than b-movies of old, but you’re not going to find yourself gushing over anyone’s efforts and there’s a few lines of dialogue that may cause you to take a deep breath and shake your head.
Despite these flaws of story and presentation, I truly don’t think they matter all that much here. If you’re going to watch and enjoy Ninja Assassin, it will be because you enjoy a fun, bloody action movie that’s pretty relentless to your visual senses. The multiple scenes where these ninjas go wild on whomever they’re out to dispatch of are absolutely insane and you may speak an expletive or two in awe of the carnage I spoke of above. This alone is a major selling point for many, and if you are one of those people, you’re going to want to pick this up immediately.
For me personally, it’s hard for me to say whether I was a fan of this film or not. Although I entered the movie not expecting a whole lot, I quickly found myself having a hell of a lot of fun with Ninja Assassin. It wasn’t until about three-quarters of the way through that things started getting a little absurd, and the fun-effect was slowly diluting. The entire ending scene didn’t really sit too well with me at all, and while I don’t want to give away spoilers, I will just say that it involved a major battle which was meant to really blow people away but ended up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Don’t let this deter you too much, as this could very well just be my own tastes, but I do wish things had been done just a little differently in the finale.
Nonetheless, I think I would and will eventually watch this movie a couple more times. That’s the great thing about movies like this: you don’t need anything to be perfect; so long as it’s a lot of fun, it’s very much worth your time. When it comes to action and brutal martial arts battles, Ninja Assassin is a worthy solution to your craving.
As with most Blu discs there are a few special features to enjoy here. Along with the basics like deleted scenes, there’s three different featurettes to watch.
The first of which is called The Myth and Legend of Ninjas, which takes a look at the history of ninjas and uses various clips from other movies and shows to kind of celebrate their effectiveness in both human and pop culture.
The next featurette is called The Extreme Sport of A Ninja, and it looks at freerunners (also known as Urban Ninjas, able to navigate a city’s many obstacles with ease), gymnasts, and martial artists who were brought in for the movie’s many action/fight scenes.
There’s also a special called Training Rain, which of course looks at the star of the film, Rain (real name Jeong Ji-hoon), and his transformation from a hugely-popular Korean pop singer/dancer to the deadly Raizo of Ninja Assassin.