Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Lions, tigers and ninjas, oh my!
Say what you will about the horrible dialogue, the extremely fake looking CGI blood or the stilted acting, Ninja Assassin did its job — if making me deathly afraid of ninjas was what it set out to do.
Ninja Assassin, last year’s action film directed by James McTeigue, is right up there with Jaws, The Edge, The Ghost and the Darkness and Monkey Shines as far as movies that make me afraid of nature’s deadliest killers.
A simple conversation with me about the finer points of ninjary will quickly show that I am nowhere near as much of an expert on martial arts films as my fellow writer and fellow Robert, Mr. Sutton.
My experience with ninjas has been pretty much limited to teenage mutant turtles and video game characters. Maybe that’s why I was so taken back by the terrifying carnage brought forth by the shadowy clan of ninjas in Ninja Assassin.
The film stars Rain, South Korean media superstar, as Raizo, a young man raised to become a superstar ninja-killing machine since practically birth. Taught under the stern discipline of his master, Lord Ozunu (played by Sho Kosugi), Raizo develops the skills and mental fortitude of a true ninja unfortunately there remains that pesky problem with his heart — it doesn’t know how to stop loving.
If you that that last bit was cornier than an outhouse butt brush, than you are in for a real treat. Ninja Assassin features some of the most contrived, groan worthy dialogue about love and emotions to ever escape the lips of paid actors. But don’t worry — there is still plenty of blood and guts too!
Raizo, tormented by his inability to reconcile his pansy-ass emotions and his job as a paid assassin, escapes the clutches of his ninja cult family and goes on the run.
Meanwhile, Europol agent Mika Coretti (played by the extremely lovely Naomi Harris) is in Berlin looking into the urban legends surrounding a mysterious ninja fraternity of assassins who have been taking out people for centuries.
Before you can say “Ain’t that a coincidence,” Mika and Raizo are thrown in together — their lives intertwined by the hits out on both of their heads.
From there, Ninja Assassin systematically checks off the action movie to-do list — there is a police house siege, a particularly gory car chase and a full-on automatic weapon and tanks vs ninja stealth and swords action buffet.
Ninja Assassin is horribly contrived in places and features some truly awful use of computer generated blood and guts — but it does hit the spot for those looking for a little gratuitous violence in their action films.
Produced by the dream team of Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, Ninja Assassin does not break any visual barriers or make any startling innovations in the world of special effects like The Matrix or Speed Racer did — it did make me rethink my idea of ninja violence, though.
Now, as I said before, I have very limited experience when it comes to ninja movies. That said, I loved the fact that the movie actually showed, in blood-soaked (if slightly unrealistic) detail what happens when you play with sharp toys.
In far too many of the martial arts movies I saw growing up, if people fought with swords the worst wounds the combatants would walk away with were superficial scratches and maybe a ruptured artery when it came down to the killing blow. In Ninja Assassin, there is decapitation, disembowelment and enough dismemberment to get a pirate’s wooden leg hard.
Perhaps it was because I have a limited education in martial arts film or maybe it was due to the extremely low expectations I went into the movie with, but I did enjoy its cartoonish levels of excessive violence. Or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m afraid of what the ninjas will do to me if I mock their film.
Robert Saucedo would train to be a ninja but he also doesn’t know how to stop loving. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.