Ninja Assassin

Release Date: November 25, 2009

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, October 28, 2008
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Somehow we don't think ninja is his first career choice.

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79/169 Max Braden There may be more fake blood in this movie than in Kill Bill 2. Most of the movie didn't meet my expectations, but I was impressed with Sho Kosugi (the original 1980s ninja). Stephen Marcus also ha

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Ninja Assassin is one of those nifty titles that tell you everything you need to know about the film: it’s about a ninja warrior who also happens to be an assassin. If you’re a fan of the Japanese anime Naruto, like I am, the title alone generates fantastic images of epic ninja battles between noble warriors using hoards of shadow clones and sand demons.

If that last sentence left you scratching your head and saying, “Naru-what?” never fail, gentle readers, for even those among us who aren’t fanatical fans of ninja mythology may find this film to be enjoyable entertainment. The story of Ninja Assassin is actually far more mainstream than I’ve let on so far.

Now, before I actually describe to you the plot of Ninja Assassin, let me first say that I usually despise movie descriptions that use the phrase, “It’s this-movie-meets-this-movie,” as I find that it usually invites listeners to employ the most simplified, stereotypical, stultifying recollections of two films and mash them together to come up with a vague concept of a film barely resembling the concept that the speaker was trying to convey. That said, if you were to hold a gun to my head (or a shuriken, in this case), I’d say that Ninja Assassin is basically The Bourne Identity (a mediocre film that I’m sure you’ve all seen) meets Eastern Promises (a great film that I bet you haven’t seen).

The film follows a ninja named Raizo who was saved from a life on the streets and trained to be a deadly assassin by the Ozunu Clan, a mysterious secret society. After his friend is executed by the Clan, Raizo breaks all ties with the Ozunus and vanishes into the night – counting down the days until he can exact his awful revenge.

Enter Europol agent, Mika Coretti, who does her best impression of Agent Scully by flouting the orders of her superior officers and digging into Top Secret files to find out the truth about the Ozunu Clan. She immediately becomes a target of the Clan (funny how that happens) and their top assassin, Takeshi, is sent to “take care of things,” if you get my drift. Raizo intervenes, saves Coretti and must dodge ninjas and assassins alike to bring the Clan down for good.

Now do you see why I referenced Naruto in the beginning of this article? It totally sounds like a Japanese animé, doesn’t it? If you agree with me, it won’t surprise you a bit to know that this project is bring produced by the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver. Stepping in as director will be James McTeigue of V For Vendetta fame, which was also produced by the Wachowskis, with a screenplay written by J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote a bunch of Babylon 5 episodes.

The most intriguing part of this to me is the peculiar casting of Korean mega-pop-icon, Rain, in the lead role. For the five or six of you who actually saw the movie in theatres, you may remember Rain as the Japanese race car driver in Speed Racer. For everyone else who didn’t see Speed Racer, let me let you in on a little secret: Rain cannot act. His range of emotion in the film was limited to a pissed-off sneer (think Hayden Christensen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones). Apparently, Rain impressed the Wachowski brothers during his fight scenes enough for them to cast him as a ninja assassin in Ninja Assassin. I’m not sure what they saw in him, but I’m sure that at the very least, his participation in the film will help bolster box-office grosses in Asia.

As for all of you in the United States, I’d recommend renting a couple of Naruto DVDs to help get you excited about this project. *wink* (Jason Lee/BOP)

Vital statistics for Ninja Assassin
Main Cast Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles
Supporting Cast Sho Kosugi
Director James McTeigue, Rick Yune
Screenwriter Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Distributor Warner Bros. Pictures
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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