Directed By: James McTeigue
Starring: Rain, Rick Yune, Naomie Harris
Tag line: "Fear not the weapon but the hand that wields it"
Trivia: The Wachowski brothers were so impressed by Rain's performance in Speed Racer that they were inspired to create this project for him
Raizo (Korean pop star Rain) is a ninja, trained in the art of killing ever since he was a boy. In fact, he was such a promising student that his master, Lord Ozunu (Sho Kusugi), had hoped to make Raizo his successor. That all changed when Raizo fell in love with Kiriko (Kylie Goldstein), a fellow Ozunu ninja. Having grown weary of the lifestyle, Kiriko decided to abandon the Ozunu, and ran away. She was caught, branded a traitor, and killed by Raizu’s elder ninja “brother”, Takashi (Rick Yune). Unable to forget what the Ozunu did to Kiriko, Raizo himself eventually rebelled against Lord Ozunu, thus making him a fugitive from his own clan.
Meanwhile, agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) of Europol, convinced that Ninjas are alive and well and carrying out assassinations, has been looking into several politically motivated killings, which she believes were the work of the Ozunu and other clans. Of course, proving this is going to be difficult, seeing as no one in the agency, including her supervisor Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), officially acknowledges that Ninjas still exist. After stealing some top-secret files from the agency, Mika is able to track down Raizo, offering to protect him if he’ll assist with her investigation. Impressed with Mika’s tenacity, Raizo agrees, yet deep down he knows that nobody, not even the heavily-armed agents of Europol, can hide him from his former clan.
Directed by James McTeague, who also helmed the extraordinary V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin is an ultra-violent action-fest that rarely stops to take a breath. In the opening scene, a gang of Yakuza are sitting around at a tattoo parlor when one of them receives an envelope containing black sand. The tattoo artist (Randall Duk Kim) immediately recognizes this as the Ninja’s calling card, a warning that death has come knocking on their door. At first, the Yakuza laugh at the notion they’re being hunted by the ancient order, but quickly change their attitudes when one poor guy suddenly loses his head, which is severed at the mouth by a sword stroke. Hiding in the shadows, the Ninjas decimate the Yakuza, slicing and dicing them into little bits. The violence in this scene is off the wall, but it’s the action, as well as the mystery surrounding the Ninja (they move like lightning, so fast that we never see them strike), that sets the stage for what is to follow.
Story-wise, Ninja Assassin is nothing new, boasting a premise so basic that it never outshines the action or bloodshed. In most movies, this would be a weakness, but Ninja Assassin is so wild, so incredibly frantic, and so gloriously gory that little things like story and plot would have only gotten in the way. Ninja Assassin certainly won’t give your mind a workout, but your senses will have a hell of a good time.