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

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Step to the right...yeah, kind of like when you dance...OK, you are a Ninja.

  • Dec 9, 2010
* 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 shed. And there's plenty of that. Other than being bloody, "Ninja Assassin" is a horrible mistake. I wasn't anticipating it but for some reason, people were. I mean, I love "V for Vendetta", but you can't always count on a director to fulfill all of his promises. And really? Rain as a ninja? That can't exactly work out, now can it? Trading in his dancing and singing "talents" for swords and blades, Rain is nothing short of uncomfortable. His English dialogue sounds like it was poorly dubbed and his co-stars feel just as empty. If only "Ninja Assassin" stopped trying to be cool for a second and tried to knock some sense into itself, then maybe it would have been decent. Or maybe even good. The biggest point is that it's not happening here. If "Ninja Assassin" managed to accomplish being cool, then maybe it wouldn't have been as wrist-slittingly cheesy as it is. Maybe it would have been fun. Maybe even artsy. But completely faux-looking stunts, corny acting, and a plot as thin as ice squanders any of the potential that "Ninja Assassin" probably had. It aims to be a new "nerd movie", and maybe to some it will be just that, but I felt that it was missing too much to the point where I was frequently bored. Pic thinks it's awesome, but I think it's sad. And no, not sad as in "melodramatic". Sad as in pathetic. If you're annoyed by the disturbing amount of generic and plot-less action flicks that have been releasing recently, then you're going to hate "Ninja Assassin". I have written it off completely because despite some decent moments and a good visual style, there's simply nothing to enjoy. It's too dumb for greatness, memorability, or the cult status that it may have been made for. It will have much trouble finding its audience, because the problem with all of us movie-goers is that we're not idiots. You hear that, James McTeigue. We're not idiots. And judging things based on "V for Vendetta", neither are you. It's just that you're starting to remind me of Zack Snyder, minus the arsenal full of mostly good movies. Or maybe it's that you're becoming Michael Bay. Either way, it's not looking good.

I really despise directors for trying to do stuff like this; blend an old piece of legend with our society today. In this case, McTeigue puts Ninjas into cities. These ninjas blend in well with society whenever they're not assassinating, although duty does often call. Most of the film is spent in boring and painfully unnecessary flashbacks which attempt to give us the back-story which we never asked for. The leading man is Raizo, who is a much less than interesting has-been student of a secret Ninja Assassin academy in the mountains of some unspecified place. Raizo is known to his "kin" as a traitor, and is being hunted down by his own. His master is competent that Raizo is a powerful warrior and will one day be his successor, although Raizo has much different plans. Assisting Raizo on his road to revenge is a Europol Agent named Mika, who mysteriously trusts Raizo. There's not a whole lot of connection between the two, thank god, but they assist each-other when assistance is needed. I guess that bothers me since Raizo seems like a lone-wolf for the most part, yet he can sense when someone has a good heart. What kind of killer is he? I ask this because while he may be able to hold his own in a sword fight, Raizo shows a little too much sympathy. He's a tad too soft. Other than his bland character, Raizo might as well fit into the "story". The film tries to blend in themes of child abandonment and exposure-to-violence-at-a-young-age with its own silliness, but it fails. Instead, the film is pretentious, lame, and very under-plotted. I couldn't stand it. I came very close to switching it off and spending my time elsewhere. And no matter how bad a movie is, I rarely do that.

Rain is a dancer, not so much a fighter. His stunts are somewhat decent on an impressive-scale, but otherwise his dialogue is poor. Rain's English sounds too much like a bad dub to a foreign movie, although we all know that this film is not foreign whatsoever. The choice to cast Rain was not so random but then again it was, since he's a famous pop artist and not so much a famous on-screen killing machine. However, fans of Rain shall be pleased as he sports various, unnecessary shirtless scenes. For the sake of fandom, of course. Naomie Harris (28 Days Later) appears once again as a crucial character to a film, and this time she doesn't explode into a boat-full of crabs (Pirates of the Caribbean reference). Ben Miles of V for Vendetta decides to pop in for a spill and does the most decent job when it comes to acting. That's strange considering how minor he happens to be, but it's all the same a minor detail in this mess of a movie.

If there is one thing I somewhat admire about "Ninja Assassin", it's that it attempts to have technical craft. I liked the visual style of the film; it looks as good as it should. But isn't it supposed to be entertaining instead of pretty? Yes, it is. "Ninja Assassin" captures a decent amount of solid imagery but fails to create an actual film. In fact, I found it even more revolting given that it has such visual decency. The blood looks as it did in "V for Vendetta"; stylishly discolored for effect. It gives the film a goofy feel, although the film doesn't build up quite as much fun as it may have hoped for. In fact, I found this film to be so boring and generic that it was pretty much unwatchable. There were moments where I thought to myself, "Something genuinely badass is about to go down", but I left disappointed. The film makes all attempts to squander any potential that it has as an action film. It could have been a good nerdy actioner, but instead it plays more like a boring Michael Bay film with ninjas instead of consistent explosions. Note to action film lovers: avoid this one whether it looks good to your or not. You are mistaken if you think it looks even moderately interesting. This is a boring, tedious exercise in under-plotted madness and poor directing. If only it has stepped up its game after the bland first act then it could have been something that was at least mediocre. But it fails to do so and makes itself worse than it should be. So many poorly made movies, so little time. Now I can only wonder why I had time for this one.

"Ninja Assassin" is as depressing out of its lameness as it is disappointing; an unforgivable mistake from McTeigue. What bothers me is that I know the guy can direct a good, or even amazing, movie. I wonder what went wrong here. Was it that he couldn't hire REAL actors, writers, or even producers to make his film? Most likely. The only thing he pays attention to here is how the film looks. And sure, I like pretty things. But this isn't pretty enough to make it good. It's not unique on a visual level, but it was by no means bad. There's not enough humor or ridiculous action to make it the film that it should be; one of stupid fun. Movies like "Kill Bill" bring back that sweet flavor that Chinese/Japanese Kung Fu movies seemed to contain back then, although films like "Ninja Assassin" exist to make the taste seem a little less dangerous. If they make a "Ninja Assassin 2", then I will be furious. I imagine that they will since if a movie makes a decent amount of money, it automatically gets itself a sequel. And it doesn't even have to earn it. That's a symbol of the cruel world we live in; one that will accept failures as if they're good enough to keep going. If "Ninja Assassin" even becomes as much as a franchise, then I'll dislike McTeigue forever. Even though he made me smile with "V for Vendetta". But then again, he made me frown with this film, and that's a director's sin. McTeigue needs to get himself together before he goes down on my "black list" of directors who I respected once but have since lost much respect for. If "Ninja Assassin" is what McTeigue is really all about, then he has officially lost my attention which he once had. Sad but true, that's how much "Ninja Assassin" sucks.

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December 10, 2010
This was a bloody one for sure, I thought it was fun but nothing compared to V.
December 10, 2010
Agreed. I hated it though. "V For Vendetta" is great.
More Ninja Assassin reviews
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 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars: Action-Packed and A BLOODY-GORY GOOD TIME!
   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 …
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.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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