For any of you who know me well enough, or any of you who just listen to the LAMBcast, you'll know I've been relatively excited about Ninja Assassin. Therefore, it's no surprise that I went and saw the first showing available this morning. Was it what I expected? Yes and No. The movie is about Raizo (Rain), a former ninja who decided to leave his clan and fight the ninja themselves (like an assassin of ninja... hence the non-redundant title, Ninja Assassin). We also have two Europol agents, Ryan (Ben Miles) and Mika (Naomie Harris), who stumble upon a scandal involving political assassinations that seem to have been committed by a ninja clan. Of course, everybody thinks they're crazy, at least until Mika starts being hunted down for knowing too much. But Raizo steps in to protect her, and they have to work together to stay alive while trying to bring down the clan.

The first thing that I noticed about this movie that I didn't expect was the amount of blood and gore. Good God, there's a lot of it. From the start, when a guy's head gets sliced (horizontally) in half and fake CGI blood splatters everywhere, you know you're in for something. I actually wasn't bothered by the amount of blood in the movie as much as I was bothered by the amount of CGI blood in the movie. It's in Tarantino amounts here, but instead of gushing from hoses strapped into fake stumps or whatever, it's just gushes and gushes of technically nothing. It isn't anything that bothered me enough to dislike the movie, however. And it isn't all CGI... in fact, when you get real fake blood instead of fake fake blood, it's all the more welcome.

The second thing I noticed was that the acting wasn't nearly as bad as I had read in early reviews. Sure, it's nowhere close to Oscar-worthy, but it's also nowhere close to, say, The Legend of Chun-Li from earlier this year. And I bring up this particular movie because the Naomie Harris/Ben Miles scenes reminded me a lot of the Chris Klein/Moon Bloodgood scenes from said movie. Fortunately, though, they weren't nearly as poorly written nor as horribly acted. And I have to say, Naomie Harris is a freakin' chameleon. Raise your hand if you've actually realized that this is the same woman who was Selena in 28 Days Later... and Tia Dalma (AKA the weird Bayou woman) from the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. And then we have Rain, who I've had my eye on since his brilliant (and award-winning) performance in I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK. Also, for those of you who don't know, he's also a South Korean pop star (which is what makes a certain "boy band" joke in the movie funny, but which will be lost to the majority of the film's American audience).

The third thing I noticed was that the action was really freakin' cool (not to mention it's all actual stunt men and little-to-no wire work, which I think adds to the cool-factor)... but it's not the whole movie. In fact, the first half of the movie is backstory interspersed with action scenes. It flips back and forth between three main occurrences: 1) Raizo's childhood being raised as a ninja, 2) Mika and Ryan trying to figure out the ninja conspiracy while not being killed, and 3) action scenes. It's mostly when Raizo's story and Mika's story converge that the action really picks up. Everything up until that point is really good, but everything after that point is awesome (and almost non-stop). In fact, had there not been any action throughout the whole movie except for the climax scene up through the final fight between Raizo and his old master, I would have just dubbed it a slow burn film and been content. Because seriously, that final fight is epic in both the choreography and in the filming style (anything from filming through a burning wall to just the silhouettes behind a lit sliding door... and more). OK, maybe not wholly content (it is a violent ninja movie, after all), but it was still an awesome climax nevertheless.

Story-wise, one thing I wanted to point out was that it could have used a bit more building up of the relationship between Raizo and his "rival" (the guy who always calls him "brother"). I suppose you see them competing against each other growing up, and he's involved in a very important moment in Raizo's life, but outside that, there wasn't really anything that made their bond strong. Because of this, their big fight scene near the end had less of an impact... or at least not as big as the one between Raizo and his old master.

Anyway, on the one hand, I expected it to be a cheesy action movie about ninjas. But what I got was an awesome action movie (with some strong horror elements, especially toward the end) about ninjas with a couple cheesy moments tossed in here and there. So I guess it met my expectations and then some. I was thoroughly entertained, albeit a bit thrown off at first by all the backstory in the first half of the film. I guess I wasn't expecting, what's the word... character depth (:P)? But it's there. And the movie is great fun.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

1 comment:

  1. It's totally a cheesy action movie about ninjas! But that's ok. In fact, I might've liked it more had it been cheesier...


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