Posted by Evrim Ersoy
Jan 19, 2010, 17:05 GMT
It's hard to understand why Hollywood always fails at making a decent ninja movie. Just like the honourable hitman/crook movies of Jean Pierre Melville - the ninja movies relies on showing style, stealth and bonds of honour. However as soon as an American director steps up onto the plate the key points go out the window and the whole exercise turns into a show of men in black pyjamas jumping about.
Stephanie Pratt with a ninja at the LA premiere of "Ninja Assassin." Photo copyright by Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos.
To James Mcteigue's credit, he does try to imbue the story with some sort of background. Korean pop star Rain plays Raizo, a young ninja who has turned his back on the Ozunu clan which raised him. Whilst his clan takes on assassination contracts, Raizo makes it his mission to try to protect the very people Ozunu clan are trying to kill.
In to this picture walks Mika, a Europol investigator who is trying to uncover the truth behind the recent slew of assassinations. Her incessant digging naturally makes her a target and it isn't long before Raizo and Mika are forced to team up and go on the run for their lives.
On paper, it sounds right. We have the obligatory ninja clan, the training sequences, the betrayal, the emotionless assassin: add it all together and you should have a perfect ninja movie. However somehow what comes out is an unholy mess of a movie that only stops short of being one of the worst ever made.
The one good thing anyone can say about Ninja assassin is that at least it avoids being mind-numbingly boring like last year's live-action adaptation of Blood: The Last Vampire. Plus it has the always reliable Sho Kosugi as the leader of the Ozunu clan.
However Mr. Mcteigue's over reliance on flashy cutting techniques and a fast MTV style directing detracts enormously from the movie. Whilst ninja films are meant to be about silent assassins, Mcteigue's version these assassins are like grasshoppers: they bounce, run, disappear, appear again, flip off walls - you name it , they do it. And although it might sound cool, even at 90 minutes it becomes tiresome and dull.
Another problem with the film lies in its' setting: for investment and tax reasons, the film is shot in Berlin - unfortunately it's also set in Europe as well and somehow the the idea of this secret clan base atop some mountains somewhere in Berlin or Bavaria or any other German location comes across as incredibly silly. One minute the characters explore very European settings and the next they seem to be transported into a different dimension.
The over-reliance on CGI does not help the matters any further. A lot of the effects end up looking fake and disappointing which counts as a cardinal sin in a movie of this type.
Rain pulls of his role passably - though he doesn't have to much beyond brooding and looking muscly which I guess is a standard talent within the pop world anyway.In the end the film feels like another production in the Wachowski line of products: loud, flashy but ultimately with very little to offer.
Ninja Assassin is out in the UK on general release on the 22nd January 2010.
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