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With Jim Sabatini

Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin
Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune, Sho Kosugi

Rated: R strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language
Reviewed by:  
Release date: November 25, 2009 Released by:

The predictable Ninja Assassin follows Raizo (Rain of Speed Racer), one of the deadliest assassins in the world, turning his back on the orphanage (Ozuno Clan/The Nine Clans) leading to a confrontation with a fellow ninja from the very same clan.

James McTeigue (V For Vendetta) directs this stylized, graphic "sword-and-splatter" picture with some whiplash editing, that co-stars Rick Yune (Die Another Day), Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), Ben Miles and Sho Kosugi.

The story has mythic, Dickens implications, as Raizo is coping with the brutal execution of his friend by a group who'll do in anyone if their price of "100 pounds of gold" is honored.

As Ozuno master, played by legendary martial arts performer Kosugi (Revenge of the Ninja), puts it, one has to put behind the beating and killings, the agony and blood, because "Pain breeds weakness and suffering exists because weakness exists." Raizo has his share of haunting recollections (blindfolded sword fighting) with infliction and the supernatural with weapons like the shuriken and kusarigama.

McTeigue's frenetic foray geared towards young males has Raizo hiding out in Berlin with the scars from a mountaintop asylum with his secret sect. He's turned into an avenger using a shadowy warrior presence able to recover from samurai sword wounds impressed by the clan for those planned to be offed by them.

His mission is connected to what Harris's Europol agent Mika Coretti has learned from a money trail to an underground, untraceable activity from the Far East concerning political murders. The alluring woman's defying doggedness puts her in the midst of the Clan, and Raizo reawakens to keep both of them from a seemingly slicing and dicing end (watch out for the volcanic wax-sealed envelop), at least for a while.

Inevitably, a cat and mouse game ensues through the streets of Europe as Raizo and Mika must join forces to undo their elusive adversary. The targeted demographic will like all the shiny weapons and blood with some charged visceral sequences especially starting with an initial Yakuza slaughter. But, unlike V For Vendetta it's not at the service of a tensile-strengthed story and characters, just dull with some arterial splash and body part panache whether on some wallpaper or in a laundromat.

Miles turns up as Mika's uptight superior, Ryan Maslow, and Yune has his biggest moment as Raizo's rival from the Clan, Takeshi, at the huge crimson-colored brawling climax for those who especially go for dismemberments and decapitations. Jet Li may have done this kind of picture a decade ago, and though Rain emits some tangy appeal, Ninja Assassin just doesn't cut its way into a rich tradition of cold-blooded, lightning-fast killing those which paved the way for a magnum opus like Kill Bill.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Ninja Assassin        D+                  D+ 

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