Eric D. Snider

Ninja Assassin

Movie Review

Ninja Assassin

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D

Released: November 25, 2009


Directed by:


For a movie about a calculating, silent killer, "Ninja Assassin" sure is dumb and loud. It's uncreative, too. A typical gory movie might show someone getting sliced in half, but it's usually the money shot, the big special effect they've been saving until the end of the movie. "Ninja Assassin" slices a guy in half in the first scene, and then continues to slice guys in half repeatedly for the next 90 minutes. Kinda loses its impact after the first dozen times, you know?

Directed by James McTeigue ("V for Vendetta") and produced by "Matrix" creators Andy and Larry Wachowski, it's about a Berlin-based Europol agent, Mika (Naomie Harris), investigating a series of murders that she believes were committed by ninjas -- yes, the medieval Japanese warriors. Mika's theory is that they have continued to operate in secret for the last couple hundred years, committing murders for hire without ever once being caught. Turns out she's right, but it's still a stupid theory. What, Europe doesn't have regular ol' serial killers and hitmen?

Among these ninjas is Raizo (Korean pop star Rain), a rogue assassin seeking to settle a score with his old associates, who are trained from childhood by a cruel sensei (Sho Kosugi) at a ninja academy. Abundant flashbacks show a teenage Raizo (Joon Lee) having a crush on a pretty ninjette-in-training, Kiriko (Anna Sawai), and enduring some kind of ill-explained rivalry with fellow teen ninja Takesh (Kai Fung Rieck). But Raizo's character is never defined enough for us to be interested. Rain may be a pop star, but charismatic he isn't, and the screenplay -- originally by first-timer Matthew Sand, revised by "Babylon 5" creator J. Michael Straczynski -- is hopelessly bland. All we really know is that Rain has parted ways with his ninja clan, and that they want him dead because of it. Yawn.

The film is essentially nonstop murder, graphic and bloody to the point of absurdity, and consistently mindless. The ninjas are depicted not just as stealthy and fast but as actual supernatural beings, disappearing as wisps of smoke when they move. Some of the fighting is reasonably stylish, but there's no investment. It's action without meaning, which gets boring very, very fast.

Grade: D

Rated R, abundant harsh profanity, pervasive blood, gore, and dismemberment

1 hr., 39 min.

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This item has 9 comments

  1. Dan says:

    I sure do love me some V for Vendetta though!

  2. Doggin says:

    What?!? You mean a movie based on a video game (or so I assume, as they share a title) isn't very good (read: terrible)? Shocker.

  3. Susquatch says:

    It's a shame to hear Rain isn't very good here, because he really impressed me in I'm a Cyborg But That's OK, a quirky little comedy Park Chan-wook did a few years ago. The guy's got talent, so it sounds like he's fallen victim to a generic script here.

  4. Cafegourmand says:

    If ever there's a grade Z rating, I'd give this movie just that. Z for zzzzz. Very poorly written script. Lots of character development (was there any?) conflict. I've read someone say that this will not start a ninja craze in Hollywood. I couldn't agree more.

  5. anum says:

    Sigh. He's a really REALLY talented actor, but he just seems to be the victim of a poorly written script + the language barrier. He's definitely got potential...! In all his Korean dramas/movies he was an AMAZING actor. Oh well, maybe he'll practice more English and get a better movie next time? ):

  6. Darlene says:

    I believe the movie was great and it showed Rains acting skills in a different way than most of the mini dramas he's been in. Rain's really an amazing, impressive, and admirable[sp?] person. He does have the potential, maybe it wasn't him, could've been the script. The Title is called "NINJA ASSASSIN" what more can you ask for than ninja's killing ppl? the title explains itself. He did work very hard for the movie, you can see that. I'm a huge fan of Rain ever since I listened to his music and watched his drama Full House. I hate it that some ppl thought his acting was poor or thought the movie was not good, because I thought it was very amazing. I'm no expert but I know enough to know that the movie did not suck or lack in any way.

  7. Rude Dog says:

    You know, I live in Asia, and this movie is marketed at "the Rain movie." Personally, I think they should've jumped straight to the sequeal and done Rain vs. Super Junior, a 12-person K-pop boy band.

    No, I'm not making that up, there is a band called Super Junior and they really have 12 people. They're kind of like the Wu Tang Clan of boy bands. And I would wait overnight to see Ninja Assassin 2: Rain v. Super Junior.

  8. NoOne says:

    Gaa, haven't seen this yet but i pity Rain already. He shouldn't have done this.

  9. Anthony says:

    Well as a die hard ninja fan, I feel like this movie did its job and very well. Although the plot is uninventive, it doesn't mean it wasn't written well with some decent humor. Definitely excessive on the gore, and I had no idea what I was getting into the first time I went - but it was entertaining.. and again I sure do love ninja :P

    Good movie, I'm about to go to the movies to see it once more lol

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