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Ninja Assassin (2009)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Martial Arts Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: November 25th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James McTeigue Actors: Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune, Sung Kang, Sho Kosugi

B

loodthirsty doesn’t even begin to describe the level of splattering carnage found throughout “Ninja Assassin.” If the body count is proportionate to how “cool” a ninja is, then the unrelenting slaughter makes sense. But the supernatural elements and camera tricks seem like unnecessary enhancements for the already believably elite killing machines. At least, the creators know that nonstop action is what fans of the genre desire; the brutal combat barely lets up for the few snippets of plot to squeeze their way in. The equally relentless flashbacks hurt, though not as much as razor-sharp throwing stars to the face.

Trained since childhood to be a deadly killer, Raizo (Rain) has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him, now seeking revenge for their numerous, heartless murders. Forced into becoming a cold-blooded executioner, watching his friends die at the hands of the barbarous teacher (Sho Kosugi), and being mercilessly tortured into resisting all human emotions, fear, and pain, Raizo has years of pent up rage to unleash on hordes of betrayed ninja assassins. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika (Naomie Harris), Raizo steadily butchers his enemies as he inches ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master.

If there’s anything impressively aberrant about “Ninja Assassin,” it’s the violence. Shockingly gruesome, starting with a nauseating improvised tattooing opening sequence and graduating to no-holds-barred limb-chopping bloodshed, this film prides itself on inventing new ways to savagely dice up the human body. Definitely not for the squeamish, the swordplay doesn’t retain an exaggerated feel often enough – occasionally, it is borderline realistically appalling. Extreme, gratuitous, and oftentimes comical, the action is incredibly intense – but to the same degree that the story is weak and the characters very thinly drawn.

With overdone, cinematic fire garnishing the best fights, chases through heavy traffic, thundering noises, annoyingly superhuman skills, and more slicing, cutting, and stabbing than could ever be considered reasonable, “Ninja Assassin” is exhaustingly awesome. A lethal monster trained to avoid feelings is difficult to sympathize with, but some clever editing fixes the issue with surprising uniqueness. Comparable to the fourth Rambo film in the level of pure, wanton bloodletting, (but not as realistic or smart) “Ninja Assassin” brings edged weapon gore to all new heights.

– The Massie Twins

 



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