Ninja Assassin is primarily committed to its bloodletting and cool fight scenes than to its story and characters. For those who are looking for a good story and script, it’s a big letdown. But for adrenaline junkies and all those who are into excessive CGI blood and gore, this movie is going to be fun.
This action flick produced by Andy and Larry Wachowski (a. k. a. the Wachowski brothers), filmmakers of the Matrix trilogy, really magnifies its selling point: very cool fight scenes. It could have meant more if they provided a decent storyline and less the dumbness…
The film seems to capitalize on the CG innovation of slicing human bodies by whizzing five-pointed stars, among other bladed weapons. And if the viewer turns off his/her brain, then it’s time to turn up the blood splatter for that entertaining video game-style killings.
This East meets West slice fest unfolds like a diverting, uncommonly violent action flick like there’s no need for an extended critical analysis for it.
This ninja movie mainly showcases shiny blades and bloodshed. Director James McTeigue provides visceral fights and stylish gore to please the fan boys and girls who expect ample smashing, gory decapitations, and gushing streaks and rivers of blood on the big screen. The all-about-fun edit provides enough commercial appeal to it as blood-spattered martial arts moves abound to delight the followers of the genre. Most scenes move very fast and are intriguingly dimly lit.
The film lives in the moment: a gut-driven gouge of a picture where shaky cam in dark cinematography and blatantly fake CGI bloodshed color the screen like a sea of red and black.
Ninja Assassin can be ridiculously exhilarating. Its brisk and exuberantly obvious filmmaking knows how to perk up the audience’s bloodthirsty pleasure for a genre flick without trying to humanize its comicbook characters nor deliver a ludicrous political or societal message. It’s all about the audio-visual satisfaction for throwing stars, swinging swords, and disemboweled bodies. With gusto, it turns these bodies into human salsa for the heck of it; well actually, to live up to its title. And the atmospheric mood with some homage to old-style ninja elements adds some more interest to it.
The disjointed storytelling and unbearable lull moments are the given lackluster parts of the movie. The dialogues are generally flat. Some of the tricked-out fight scenes are not as slick as most, and these are where the aspect of slicing and dicing don’t get to measure up to the audience’s demands for more quality entertainment. They may be engaged at what the screen shows, but they don’t get involved with the characters. This makes it increasingly hard to care about what ever happens to them. And following the story outside the realm of the “cool fight scenes” is like having to use a useless butter knife when it’s supposed to be a boastfully sharp sword.
Rain justifies his character as a very talented slaughterer here. As Raizo, the ninja assassin who turns away from his clan, could kill anything within his reach. The movie shows how much tough training he had. And thanks to good lighting on his ninja body, he provides that needed entertainment to the viewers by really living up to the film’s title. He and Mika, played by Naomie Harris, have moments of stylized lunacy that nearly works, though the lame script punctures the characters’ and the film’s overall potential. Sho Kosugi as the Ozunu clan master, along with the rest of the ninjas around, works way much better when doing the fight scenes than doing lip service and some melodramatic moments. All these make the movie work for its basic purpose – as long as there are ninjas fighting on-screen.
Ninja Assassin is a bloody concoction of a slasher movie in martial arts form. It is wildly improbable and completely unrealistic, but it’s also bloody good fun. And so, if bloody mayhem is the viewers’ idea of coolness and adrenaline rush, this movie really splatters well.