Ding bong wao, it’s Burl, here to review a ninja assassin movie by the title of, ha ha, Ninja Assassin! It’s a title that fits this picture perfectly, as it accurately and completely reflects the subject, the carbon-copy plot and the stolid, fingerprintless low-ambition manner in which it goes about its business! For me, this movie fits into a category I like to call I Can’t Believe I Watched The Whole Thing, and quite honestly tight now, as I write this, one day after having seen it, I can barely recall a thing about it!
The great splashes of lame CGI blood: that’s one thing I do remember, ha ha! I guess it’s this picture’s signature element, because that element sure isn’t the star, a Korean pop warbler named Rain! Ha ha, the gambit of using a striking-looking non-actor to play a role in which he’s required not to emote – Rain’s ninja training requires him to feel nothing, you see – works on paper, and occasionally on screen also, with the go-to example being Arnold in The Terminator! But Rain defeats even this simple calculation with his special brand of reverse-charisma! It must be a function of the cultural and language barriers, because on some level, in some way, he must be a compelling personality, or he wouldn’t be a big pop star anywhere, no matter what he looks like or how he can sing!
But imagine for a moment that you’re making a movie with Rain playing the lead! What do you do? Well, one idea is to pack the picture with as many flashbacks as possible, so that Rain’s character, Raizo, while still unquestionably the lead, is frequently played by actors other than, and superior to, Rain! Ha ha! So that’s just what they did here!
Organized chronologically instead of in pointless parallel, the film is about a young orphan raised in the harshest boarding school ever, where the students frequently go to bed without food, and with great oozing wounds or simply extreme pain! He is taught pitilessness and how to move among the shadows and how to toss throwing stars like a baby flinging Tic Tacs! His particular specialty appears to be a knife on a long, barbed chain, such as has been seen in Kill Bill and other films! (This weapon may never have existed in prop form, so consistently is it rendered as a computer graphic!)
The school trains ninjas of course, and these enact high-priced assassinations all over the world! Ha ha! But Raizo becomes disillusioned with the ninja life when his brutal teacher, played by none other than Sho Kosugi from Rage of Honor, and a nasty fellow student, Rick Yune from Olympus Has Fallen, kill a few of his friends! As Raizo is breaking away, an agent of “Europol,” played by Naomie Harris of Skyfall, gets on the ninja case, and Raizo is forced to protect her from the shadowy ninjas, who are treated cinematically as if they were attacking monsters or ghosts!
Ha ha, I did like the use of trick effects to show the ninjas melting in and out of the shadows, but so did the filmmakers, and this device was too frequently deployed! The affectless CGI gore strove so mightily for “Whoa!” that barely five minutes in, the picture felt like a bar-boor pulling card tricks, all forced, desperate energy! It’s virtually bereft of intentional humour, but it does have a certain peculiar strain of stupidity that puts it in the same class as oddities like The Hunted, of which I was strongly reminded several times!
So it’s got that going for it, but little else! But, ha ha, it can’t be denied that I did in fact watch the whole thing, so to paraphrase Obi Wan, who is the more foolish? I’m glad at least that I wrote all this down while I still could, because I can feel the thing fading fast in my memory - it's little more than a vague smear of digital blood at this point! I give Ninja Assassin one bamboo cage, and it probably doesn't even deserve that!