— by SEAN GERSKI —
I suspect that there is a very good chance you will walk out of “Ninja Assassin” having watched the very movie you expected to see.
If you are hoping to see a blood-and-guts, all-out ninja brawl that looks cool — well, this is that movie. However, if you expect a cliched movie with minimal plot, easy-to-spot “surprises” and a lot of CGI — well, this is that movie, too.
In all honesty, reviewing a movie like “Ninja Assassin” is an exercise in futility. For my money, it all boils down to this: if you want to see it, if this is the kind of movie that appeals to you, don’t worry about any of the reviews, just go see it. If you don’t want to see it, if this isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other great options out there.
I watched it with a friend of mine and his reaction was that it was “one of the better movies for what it is.” And that’s what it boils down to. Is it a good movie? Not especially. Is it an entertaining movie? Yes.
As for the much-hyped gore in the movie, the violence in “Ninja Assassin” isn’t far removed from what you might see in a video game. People are sliced and diced in a near cartoonish manner. The funny part is that I could watch 17 ninjas get cut in half without so much as a wince, but watching one kid get whipped on the bottom of his feet gets to me.
I thought the lead actor — a South Korean pop star named Rain — was charismatic and did exactly what was asked of him. I would expect to see him in more movies of a similar nature (if not sequels to this one).
The movie’s plot involves a ninja boot camp for orphans. They are basically tortured into becoming assassins for hire. For a “millennium,” these ninja assassins have been paid the sum of 100 pounds of gold for a hit (inflation be damned!).
But I’m going to be honest with you, it really isn’t worth spending too much time on the plot. This is the kind of movie better left unexamined, as on the ride home, my friend and I began to uncover plot hole after plot hole. Some of them are minor quibbles, some are larger. One ninja (I won’t say which one) demonstrates a technique wherein he slices his hand open, then he closes it and he has magically healed it. Later, his face is sliced, but … he doesn’t heal it. Why not? My guess is that scars look cool. Another time, one of the ninjas has one heck of a time defeating a guy he has snuck up upon, but after nearly being beaten to death, that ninja somehow summons the will to defeat many other ninjas that have received the exact same training he has. And so it goes …
Written by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski and directed by James McTeigue, “Ninja Assassin” isn’t much more than a series of actions scenes tied together with a plot that is willing to change to allow whichever scene comes next. How much do bullets affect the ninjas? Depends on which scene we are in. Where exactly is the ninja base? Who cares? Just get to the next set piece!
When “Ninja Assassin” arrives in theaters on Nov. 25, just use your own judgment on whether you should see it. My guess is that you will make the right call either way.
Follow Sean Gerski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DoubleDown44.