Ninja Assassin (2009) Review

"Ninja Assassin" Korean Theatrical Poster

"Ninja Assassin" Korean Theatrical Poster

Director: James McTeigue
Writer: Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski
Producer: The Wachowskis, Joel Silver
Cast: Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune, Sho Kosugi, Sung Kang, Randall Duk Kim, Linh Dan Pham
Running Time: 99 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

If any of the following statements apply to you, then chances are, you definitely went through a “ninja phase” in the 1980s:

1. You had a copy of Revenge of the Ninja playing religiously in your VCR.

2. You bought martial arts magazines just for the advertisements that featured ninja weapons.

3. You dressed as a ninja for Halloween (which meant a black T-shirt wrapped around your head… at least for me).

4. You owned blunt ninja stars, hand claws, and ninja shoes that you purchased from your local swap meet.

5. “Only A Ninja Can Destroy A Ninja” was the coolest quote ever.

Remember the magic you felt while watching those Sho Kosugi flicks like Revenge of the Ninja? Or how about Duel to the Death and Five Element Ninjas? Well, if you’re hoping to revisit that same magic with Ninja Assassin, get ready for absolutely NOTHING.

Yes, Ninja Assassin has a fair amount of violence and extreme gore. Yes, it brings ninjas back to the big screen; Yes, the film’s poster is extremely cool; And yes, Sho Kosugi, the ninja actor that every child idolized, has a beefy part – it’s just too bad that all of this adds up to about 2 hours of soulless shit.

Honestly, the film’s slick trailer is as good as it gets. The plot blows… okay, I know, I know, it’s a martial arts movie, right? Well, yeah, but there’s no martial arts that can be deciphered. In fact, why even pay a professional fight choreographer if your camera is zoomed in at 200% against someone’s nutsack? And I’m not even going to mention the nighttime/darkly lit settings. Seriously?

I guess I should be used to a disappointment. I keep on forgetting that most Hollywood action films are catered for average knuckle-heads who saw Transformers 2 on opening day, and watched Avatar six times in the theaters. Give these fools some cgi hira-shuriken, buckets of blood, and multiple beheadings, and they’ll think it’s the best movie ever.

The lead, Rain, a Korean pop singer/actor, physically fits the role and handles the martial arts scenes well (from the 3 seconds that are visible). However, when the guy opens his mouth, he sounds a little too feminine to be the lead in an action movie. He reminds me of one of those Asian guys who does women’s nails for a living. And uh, get a last name, prick.

What a waste of an ultra-cool title for an ultra-lame movie. James McTeigue, Joel Silver, The Wachowskis; go f*ck yourselves!

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 2/10 (1 point for Sho Kosugi, 1 point for Naomie Harris)

By American Ninja Man

More ninja and less ass. Thank you.

First of all, Ninja Assassin has but one saving grace, and that is Sho Kosugi; when he appeared on screen, I was excited; too bad he wasn’t the focal point and the far less-interesting Rain was.

The fight sequences are okay, and there is a cool opening; but aside from some adequate action and guys in black jammies kicking the crap out of each other the, film takes far too much time with the ridiculous CIA subplot investigating the ninjas, and that detracts from what enjoyment one can get from such a movie.

Also, did I mention how lame Rain is? Is he trying to pay homage to the pink ninja from Mortal Kombat? If so, he sure did a good job because he was one lame ninja.

Seriously, if this thing floats your boat, rent American Ninja or Revenge of The Ninja again; I mean at least those films actually have a ‘ninja’ presence, plus both are fun in a shits and giggles kind of way.

The fact this doesn’t live up to the Kosugi/Dudikoff standards is surprising, but it goes without saying that this has nothing on Shaw Bros’ (gods of cinema, as far as I’m concerned) Five Element Ninjas – it’s equally gory and it has great fight sequences. This one just has Sho Kosugi and some dipshit named Rain, which is why those ninja flicks I mentioned live on with a cult following, while this one just tries too hard.

Also, for a ninja film this thing takes itself way too seriously and really, nobody wants to see a ninja film that’s trying to be Shakespeare.

American Ninja Man’s Rating: 5/10

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