Ninja Assassin - Blu-ray Review

'when a film has both 'Ninja' and 'Assassin' in the title, audiences can be forgiven a touch of surprise when fifty percent of the narrative turns out to be centred around such a mushy concept as 'feelings''

For a film with a title as self-explanatory as Ninja Assassin, it's pleasing to find that when the main characters (ninjas) are carrying out their chosen job function (assassinations) James McTeigue's action flick moves at a fast pace with lots of blood, lots of stupid action and fair amounts of flying severed limbs. When said main characters start to spend too much time reminiscing and generally being soppy teenagers rather than deadly killers though, the film finds itself both grinding to a halt and verging on violating the trade descriptions act. When a film has both 'Ninja' and 'Assassin' in the title, audiences can be forgiven a touch of surprise when fifty percent of the narrative turns out to be centred around such a mushy concept as 'feelings'.

It doesn't help either when the plot wanders off in to incredibly stupid territory, above and beyond the stupid territory which one expects from this sort of thing. Ninjas jumping around buildings are fine but ninjas literally being shown to dissolve in to thin air? It feels like you've annoyingly stepped on to the set of an X-File. A few similar moments also distract, most notably in the actually-quite-fun conclusion where one character's personal end makes it difficult to imagine the ideas story writer Matthew Sand rejected as 'too unbelievable'.

South Korean popstar Rain is, as the documentary shows, in incredible shape and his acting talents meet the demands of the script which basically require him to moodily spout a few lines of guff under his breath every two or three scenes. That's perhaps doing him a bit of a disservice and whilst I certainly wouldn't go as far as the Bruce Lee comparison the documentary makes, he is more than adequate as a kung-fu kicking leading man. Rick Yune is completely wasted behind a ninja mask, the Ryan Maslow role needed to be filled by an actor with much more gravitas than Ben Miles and promising British talent Naomie Harris - who you'll probably have seen as Tia Dalma in the latest two Pirates Of The Caribbean films - is sadly lumbered with all of the script's exposition.

The action scenes though are inventive, varied and well choreographed. It doesn't quite reach Ong-bak levels but there are enough flavours of ninjas chopping people's legs off on show to keep you interested. A brief mention too for the sound department who imbue every scene with a wide range of subtleties, from the accurate reproduction of a creaking floor to all the 'whooshes' and 'rawrrss' you can shake a sharp-edged stick at.

Diamond sharp on occasion but its soft focus sidesteps are distracting and numerous, whilst the script leaves little room for any member of the non-kicking cast to shine.

Look further...

'it’s a symphony of violence in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen before–it’s completely and utterly mainstream, but still over the top, excessive and totally silly' - The Stop Button


  1. Heh, it sounds like there's not enough face-kicking for my my liking. I hate soppy ninjas.

  2. Soppy ninjas are categorically the worst kind of ninjas.

  3. What I found most disappointing with this feature was just how dark it was. I know ninjas operate in the dark but the dimness didn't allow for much of the choreography to be seen.

    I also dislike soppy ninjas

  4. Yes, good point although I thought there were enough lighter scenes to see enough of the choreography. But you're right, the scene in the warehouse (what the hell were they doing there anyway?) in particular is rather dark and I'm sure there are other examples that I've already forgotten about.

  5. pretty...

  6. He is, very impressive performer I must say. Hopefully he'll get another gig soon.