236th Movie Review: Ninja Assassin (2009) [MMM Day 1]

Good mix of action, revenge, gore, and politics; but just like a ninja, it lacks heart

I guess Assassins really don’t speak that much. Rain’s character barely did anything in the first half of the movie except show off his ninja skills in several exhibitions in different time frames (Come to think of it, his teenage self looks like Ryan Higa). But anyway, let’s take one step back and talk about what exactly happened.

In this movie we witness the tale of Raizo (Rain), a skilled assassin who was trained by a mythical secret society, patiently waiting for the day that he will avenge the death of his best friend/lover. The movie shifts from present to past to aid us in unravelling his complicated journey. Swept off the streets as a young boy, Raizo is transformed into an unstoppable killing machine by a secret society known as the Ozunu Clan.

The Ozunu Clan is so proficient at keeping their existence a secret that most people think they are only a myth, but the moment Ozuno assassins kill Raizo’s friend, he begins to feel that he doesn’t belong to the clan. Raizo stages a daring attack to his master after completing his first mission, but fails. He then subsequently bides his time until the day when he can take the entire Ozunu Clan down.

As for the other half of the story, here’s a brief description by Jason Buchanan and Rovi:

“Meanwhile, in Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) discovers a money trail connecting multiple political murders to a mysterious network of elusive assassins from the Far East. While her superior Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles) orders Mika to back down and stop asking questions, she stealthily begins searching through classified agency files on a relentless mission to discover the truth about the murders. Singled out as a target as a direct result of her investigation, Mika is marked for death by lethal Ozunu assassin Takeshi (Rick Yune). Just as Mika is about to be silenced forever, Raizo saves her from certain death. But Raizo knows that Takeshi and the rest of the Ozuno Clan won’t stop until he and Mika are both dead. Now, as Raizo and Mika are hunted through the winding streets of Europe, their only hope for survival is to trust one another and stay alive long enough to bring the Ozunu empire crumbling to the ground.”

To be honest, Rain fits the leading role very well; but then again he hardly spoke. I guess the writer believed in the saying, “action speaks louder than words.” Other than him though, there weren’t any other
noteworthy performances. Even Maslow (Ben Miles) and Lord Ozunu (Sho Kasugi) failed to impress me. The lack of screen time for everyone except Rain made the movie look more of a biopic. Also, the backstory seemed too large a scale for a plot that’s merely a small portion of a gigantic piece. It would’ve helped a lot if we were given a hint of a sequel in the works, since it’s been a while that a ninja movie actually had a large scope.


However, I can’t argue about how slick and smooth the fight scenes were. Let me retract the harsh comments critics gave this movie about it being more of a CGI-spectacle than a serious actioner. For me, the fact that the action scenes in this film were overly edited made it a lot more fun that watching it with no special effects whatsoever. The only problem I had was the fact that they went too far in the end by giving Raizo and the Izunu clan lord extraordinary assassin powers during their overblown fight scene. I’d even say that the brutal scene in the opening was more impressive than that one.

If you’re an action fan and you need something to kill time, this 99-minute diversion is perfect for you! But even if the whole film is serious, you shouldn’t take it too seriously, otherwise you’d end up feeling disappointed. Try to lower your expectations a bit and you’ll have a good time.

GRADE: C+

I Agreed With The MAJORITY

Rotten Tomatoes: 25% Fresh Rating

Internet Movie Database: 6.3/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 34/100

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