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A 2009 American action/martial arts film directed by James McTeigue and starring Rain.

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3 ½ Stars: Bring Your Ninja Grandma...Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME!

  • Nov 26, 2009

Co-produced by the Wachowski Brothers (boy, these guys just like Japanese mythos) of the Matrix fame and with a screenplay written by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski (one of my favorite writers) I knew I just had to give “NINJA ASSASSIN” a look. Being a martial arts action fan, I know what I am talking about when it comes to high-flying action, moody Asian plot elements and mysticism. Director James Mcteigue’s film is a lot of fun and provides some needed action ‘junk’ for martial arts fans and it is a fair attempt at creating a new martial arts hero.
Raizo (Korean actor Jeong “Rain” Ji-Hoon) is a deadly assassin who was kidnapped as a child to be raised and trained by the Ozunu Ninja Clan that is also known as the Black Sand Clan; the existence of this secret group of assassins is considered to be a myth. Following the execution of his childhood friend by his own clan, Raizo has severed all ties with the Ozunu and goes into hiding. He resurfaces some years later seeking revenge on the clan’s leader (Sho Kosugi) that takes him on a path that crosses with a young Europol agent named Mika (Naomie Harris) who is investigating the money linked to political murders and is in turn linked to the supposed mythic Ozunu Clan. Now, Raizo must confront his former brothers and to finally find redemption for the death of his childhood friend. 

           A scene from "Ninja Assassin."

                             Rain as Raizo in "Ninja Assassin."

The plot in “Ninja Assassin” isn’t very special, it is your usual revenge flick that touches on the themes of redemption, regret and finally fulfillment of one’s destiny. However, what makes it somewhat engaging is the fact that the film has that Japanese flavor and carries enough of the style that made Asian movies successful in the martial arts genre. The screenplay gives some good characterization in the part of the lead character and focuses on his development as young student and finally a man. Raizo’s past is shown in the form of flashbacks, and writers Michael Sand and J. Michael Straczynski (he rewrote the script) manages to make a compelling character out of Raizo. From childhood, he has been tortured both mentally and physically by Lord Ozunu (nicely portrayed by Sho Kosugi) that proved to be his own rite of passage. His friendship with Kiriko (Kylie Goldstein) proves to be anchor within the walls of the Ozunu and his rivalry with another student Takeshi (Rick Yune) for the leadership of the clan proved to be his goal at first. Things change, and the script brings the exposition that the right woman can indeed change a man for the better, this is indeed a fact. 

          Rain as Raizo, Anna Sawai as Teenage Kiriko and Sho Kosugi as Ozunu in "Ninja Assassin."

                             Kai Fung Rieck as Teenage Takeshi and Joon Lee as Teenage Raizo in "Ninja Assassin."
           Sungwoong Yoon as Young Raizo and Sho Kosugi as Ozunu in "Ninja Assassin."
Alright, one isn’t exactly here for an inventive plot, martial arts action films usually soar because of the exciting fights and outrageous stunts; in this regard “Ninja Assassin” doesn’t disappoint. Actor Jeong Ji-Hoon does have the charisma of a young ninja warrior and he does move gracefully during the fights. The film is full of style and very cool macho posturing; this is after all, still a Hollywood flick so count on the usual extreme close-ups, tricks with CGI, and a lot of zooming in and outs that take us right in the middle of the action. The fight choreography is very good, and looks very spiffy. It is cool but Hollywood didn’t know when to stop and the scenes do become rather bombastic at times, that it came dangerously close to becoming “cartoonish“. Ninja’s are assassins that rely on stealth and the shadows to get to their objective, while the film does show those qualities (very cool), it barely has anything different to make 'stand out' from other martial arts films done by Hollywood. This movie would have done better with a more restrained style, but it does have its moments. The fights are long and very bloody; I liked the fights that occurred in the police safe house and the final fight with Sho Kosugi proved very exciting. It was such a thrill to see an older Kosugi show that he still has the stuff.

         Rain as Raizo in "Ninja Assassin."

                                Rain as Raizo and Sho Kosugi as Ozunu in "Ninja Assassin."

        Rain as Raizo in "Ninja Assassin."
The film also has a significant amount of gore and loads of blood. I was happy to see the gore and massive amounts of blood but after awhile the CGI blood effects started to wear thin. I know the effects are probably done in a manner to pay homage to Japanese arterial sprays effects but it would’ve been better if it used the old-fashioned red-ink. The film also uses some prosthetics enhanced with the CGI blood, the results are a little uneven as the quality of the effects swing from good to just plain unnecessary.
“Ninja Assassin” has a fair share of supporting characters and while they did manage to get things going for Raizo, I am rather undecided whether they were necessary or not. Sure, Mika had her moments and actress Naomie Harris is nice to look at, but what is up with sidekicks? Hollywood still has little faith on the lead character to pull it off. Her superior Maslow (played by Ben Miles) provides some humor but this is where the dialogue resorts to becoming too obligatory, and the supporting characters do get in the way of the action.
“Ninja Assassin” is a fun action movie to watch. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the way the fights were spaced out and if one is looking for balls-to-walls action then this film will not disappoint. Sometimes, we need a fun martial arts film and “Ninja Assassin” may just fulfill the needs of the action junkie. The CGI blood effects may prove to be a tad excessive at times, that I was a little turned off but I managed to look past it because the screenplay does manage to make Raizo an interesting and a compelling character. The film would have been better if it avoided the stereotypical sidekick affair and instead focused on the conflict between Raizo and Lord Ozunu, but hey, this is a Hollywood flick, so if you want real authentic ninja action film, turn your eyes to Japan.
Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]

          Rain as Raizo and Sho Kosugi as Ozunu in "Ninja Assassin."

                        Rain as Raizo in "Ninja Assassin."


3 ½ Stars: Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME! 3 ½ Stars: Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME! 3 ½ Stars: Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME! 3 ½ Stars: Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME!

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June 14, 2010
Man I still need to open this one up, I hate when I buy things and wait for ever to get to them. My bro has this as well and says it reminded him of an older one but he can't think of what it is.
March 30, 2011
I did eventually watch it.
December 03, 2009
I was somehow under the initial impression that this would be a throwback to the ninja flix of the eighties that I had to wait for HBO or videotape. The film still looks pretty cool & I think I will check it out at some point. I just dread paying the full ticket price. Great job!!
November 26, 2009
Nice write up as always. But I do disagree with you on one point in your review. You said that this was a typical revenge movie but I didn't see it that way. I felt he in fact didn't think of betraying/going against his clan until way after they killed his childhood friend. In my opinion, it was more about him realizing the clan was just plain evil and he had to stop it. Thats just my 2 cents.
November 27, 2009
good point. I do think that he wouldn't have realized the evils of the clan if they didn't kill Kiriko. I do thinkthat it is a revenge flick or maybe it was a battle for redemption but the motivations behind proved more compelling. I do like your take too. The film would have benefitted more if it focused even more on Raizo and Lord Ozunu than throwing in stereotypical characters in the form of Mika. This movie was a lot of fun, better than I expected.
November 26, 2009
I'm not sure whether I'll see this or not. I love the Wachowski Brothers early stuff, but I can't say that I've heard much positive about this... but it does look kind of kick-ass. Cool review and killer pictures (literally).
November 26, 2009
actually the story itself wasn't too bad. It may be a tad unoriginal but it makes use of its fine points in making Raizo quite interesting. Straczynski definitely saved this one with his rewrite. The action scenes are better than the ones we usually see from H-wood.
More Ninja Assassin reviews
review by . December 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****      From the director of "V for Vendetta", a masterful adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name, comes this unexpectedly awful movie. While the name suggests badass ninja fight scenes and plenty of assassinations, the film fails to build upon any of its promises. There is a whole lot of action but none of it is particularly fun or exciting. The only thing that really reminds me of "V for Vendetta" is the coloring of the blood which is …
review by . April 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I don't know whether to be slightly embarrassed by the level of enjoyment I got from this as it's by no means a good film in the traditional sense of the word. The acting is by no means good and perhaps it doesn't need to be as it's obviously a film targeted at the gore loving adrenaline junkies of the 21st century. It fits well for its target audience and will undoubtedly, as it's done with me, draw in people who would consider themselves fans of "Good Cinema" and would usually turn their …
review by . November 27, 2009
I went into this movie not expecting a great storyline or great acting.  I went into this movie expecting a lot of cool ninja fight scenes and bloody action.  But to my surprise, I got all the action I wanted and a decent plot.      Ninja Assassin is a fictional Ninja flick about an orphan boy who becomes a full fledge ninja assassin.  As the movie progresses, it explains how, Raizo (or however you spell it), became the ninja he is today.  It shows the brutal …
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A good action movie with lots of incredible martial arts. Dont go for the story.
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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About this movie


Ninja Assassin is a 2009 American action/martial arts film directed by James McTeigue and starring Rain. The film was produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, and filming took place in Berlin, Germany.

Trained since childhood to be a lethal killer, Raizo has since turned his back on the Ozunu clan that raised him and now seeks revenge for their heartless murders. Teaming up with Europol investigator Mika, Raizo steadily butchers his enemies while inching ever closer to the long-awaited bloody reunion with his former master.
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Director: James McTeigue
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: Nov. 25, 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
DVD Release Date: Unknown
Runtime: 139 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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