Ninja Assassin

“Ninja Assassin” requires, not a critique, but a simple warning to viewers: if you need to seek an analysis of the film to decide whether or not you should see it, then run for the hills.  There’s only one audience a movie like this caters to, and they know who they are.  Anyone looking for serious filmmaking, storytelling, or simply a fulfilling action-picture should look elsewhere.

If I were to take an objective approach to Director James McTeigue’s latest collaboration with the Wachowski Brothers and Joel Silver, I would have to tear the movie to more shreds and bloody stubs than you’ll find in this CGI gore-fest.  Too bad I sorta dug this trash.  Impressively, the filmmakers try to stray from camp and intend to take the material seriously, but only to a point, and end up with a lot of camp anyway.  In the end it all adds to the fun.

The plot of the film finds an investigative reporter, Mika Correti (Naomie Harris), delving too deep into the story of a ninja clan hired by various governments to do their dirty work.  These assassins are trained as very young orphans in brutal bouts of combat where their strength, sanity, and moral grounds are put to the test.  After being beaten to a pulp, the students are eventually reshaped into lurking, heartless, slice-and-dice shadows that can’t be seen.  Think the training sequences from “Batman Begins” with a penchant for Tarantino carnage.  The hero of the film is none other than a rogue warrior named Raizo (played by a man named Rain), the best of the best, who received a dishonorable discharge of sorts for his defiance against his teacher and the love he felt for his murdered counterpart.  He takes it upon himself to protect Mika and put an end to the entire clan, which includes the usual cleaning house of fifty or more ninjas sent to hunt him down.

If this movie will be remembered at all, it is for the Kill Bill-style batterings.  Even when the fight sequences can be hard to distinguish, the movie moves at such a rapid pace that I didn’t care much.  It’s the kind of B-movie that doesn’t bend the rules–it simply leaves them at the door.  The movie sprays more blood than most slasher movies, and would make the “Saw” franchise curl up in a corner.  Of course this is cheesy, CGI blood and guts that has that appealingly fake distinction.  By the time Raizo has been cut to shreds and has spilled more blood than could be physically kept inside his body, and still manages to get back up and fight ten more guys, I was at a loss for words.  This is where the movie can only be classified as a love-it or hate-it guilty pleasure.  It adds nothing new or exciting to its genre, can be visually confusing, and culminates into a total complete mess of a picture, but it is easy to chew popcorn to a whiplash of ninety minutes that relishes in being so far over the top and so ridiculously action-packed.

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