Ninjas. Remember those guys? We all wanted to be them when we were kids. They were big in the ’80s. Every discount store you went into had some cheap plastic ninja toys that your mom would buy you because she had to use that money originally earmarked for your Atari 2600 to buy your little sister corrective orthopedic shoes. Almost every action movie heavy had a few ninjas – or even an army of them – at their disposal, and disposed they easily were in the final battle royale. For a few years during the rule of Ronald Reagan – yes, the actor – ninjas were even bigger than Jesus. Some of us even figured Christ himself could have been a ninja. He did some pretty ninja stuff in that Bible, you know. Ninjas ruled all. Film production companies from Hong Kong to Halifax were churning out their own ultra-violent chop socky epics at bargain prices for the waning grindhouses and drive-ins of the world and the thriving home video market.
Remember Cannon Films? The blowhard indie movie studio that specialized in cheapjack action flicks and endless movies about interchangeable dance crazes (thank heavens they didn’t survive long enough to make Macarena: The Motion Picture) really loved ninjas. In fact, they banked their entire financial longevity on ninja movies. If they had made the Harry Potter movies somehow ninjas would have been worked into the narrative. Infamous studio heads Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were the undisputed kings of low-rent cinematic trash that went better with pizza and brown ale than wine and pita crisps. Before Cannon’s theatrical output consisted mostly of flag-waving Chuck Norris adventures and inner city revenge yarns, the studio released movies with ninjas or at least the word “ninja” in the title once a year on average. They have even their very own ninja franchise, unsurprisingly titled American Ninja.
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.