Movie #5: Ninja Assassin

One of the problems with so many martial arts films like Ninja Assassin is that the characters are often the strong, silent type who don’t go into detail about their motivations or why they’re doing something, so I often get very confused. Add to that the kind of gutteral whispers that they all speak in, and it’s a wonder that even the director knows what’s going on. In this movie, all I know is that there’s one free-thinking ninja (played by Korean popstar, Rain — and his abs), who grew up (after the kind of painfully harsh training that was required), figured out that the ninja life of brutal killing wasn’t for him (at least not as much killing) and went rogue, incurring the wrath and becoming a target for the rest of his clan (especially his master/teacher). Caught in the middle are a couple of Europol agents who are investigating the case of the ninja clans. As the movie progresses, none of that matters. The many flashback scenes that show good ninja Raizo’s past are informative, but are little more than cliche scenes of bad chop-socky dialogue (which is surprising, considering acclaimed sci-fi screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski dipped his pen into the screenplay). The scenes that I liked were the furious ninja battles when they all come after Raizo and Mika (the damsel in distress). I really enjoyed how they made it appear that the ninjas were coming out of the shadows. Also, the swirling swords, throwing stars, and especially Raizo’s weapon of choice (two blades on a long chain) were very cool. My one complaint about the fighting scenes was that there was comically too much blood. Every little paper cut gushes out paint-cans-worth of red. All in all I enjoyed this more-than-B movie. Who knew that Americans could produce such a convincingly Asian movie. (4 out of 5)

5 down, 45 to go!

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