Over the weekend I had a chance to check out director James McTeigue's ("V for Vendetta") new bloodbath film, "Ninja Assassin." McTeigue and his producing partners, Larry and Andy Wachowski ("The Matrix"), offer up 99 minutes of shadow-laden ninja fights linked together by a thin semblence of story. Quality? Meh, but Entertaining? Yeh. Expectations? Met.
Here's the breakdown:
-Star Power: Korean boy band sensation, Rain stars as Raizo, the monotone avenger of ninjadom.
-Setting: Shadowy, ninja-laden Berlin cut with flashbacks to a secluded ninja training school in the foggy ambiguously located mountains.
-Villain Style: Ozunu (Sho Kosugi, reliable 1980s ninja movie star) plays an elder, paternal figure who trains kidnapped young kids to become heartless ninjas and speaks with a 90's Matt Dylan-ish husk.
-The Girl: There are two -- the sweet-faced trainee-in-trouble who defrosts young Raizo's heart, and Mika (played by Naomie Harris), a determined investigator working for an organization akin to Interpol. Mika offers perhaps the most naturalistic (and reacting) performance in the movie, displays a couple of moments of bravery, and boasts a life-saving sincerity.
-Preferred Method of Violence: The varied and creatively clean-severed limb featuring prolific digital blood sprays.
-Blood Hue: A necessarily ketchuppy red, presumably used to make sure the blood shows against the (slightly too) murky, shadowy scenes.
-Fight Scenes: Lots of ninja kicks, star throws, chain weoponry, leaps down from above, mind tricks and secret ninja mysticism. Also features considerable gunfire in combat, choppy, fast editing and disorienting close-ups.
-Audio Cue Indicating Ninja Presense: a chorus of whispers, highlighting the word, "kill." Cues are bold but the ninjas can tend to get lost in the darkness so the soundtrack helps.
-Ninja Fashion: The ninjas wear typical, classic ninja-wear, tight black jumpsuits with headwraps generously sliced to show fierce ninja eyes. The everyday clothes featured range from pleathury jackets and Gap jeans to EMS vests.
-Laughs: There are a couple, but overall the comic relief is not as strong as the ninja watching. That said, you'll be laughing at some of the violence in a good way. This film is harsh but not scary. (It's up to you whether that's a good thing.)