Obviously, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
You see one ninja in the poster, but a hundred of them see you. Yes. Right now.
Ninja Assassin is a high-octane ride of action, action, dismemberment, and action. This would be Rain’s first Hollywood lead role, and admittedly, the emphasis on action and Rain’s bare chest does little to hide his weaknesses as an actor. There wasn’t much variety in his facial expressions to speak of. You had no idea if he was angry or happy or sad, because really, his face was almost as blank as Keanu Reeves’s. Par for the course for a Wachowski brothers-produced film, I guess.
In any case, this film follows the story of Raizo, a former member of the Ozuno clan, one of the nine secret ninja clans that have committed assassinations for centuries for a price of one hundred pounds of gold per target. Raizo is one of the best students of the clan, but finds a change of heart when the girl he has had a bond with, also a ninja, was executed for wishing to find more meaning to life than merely being someone’s lackey.
Vowing revenge on the Ozuno clan, Raizo must now work with a forensic researcher from Berlin to piece together clues as to how to find the clan and eradicate them. It’s the amazingly-paced action that is the main attraction of this film, and on that count, it definitely delivers.
Ninja Assassin’s visual style is very striking and flashy. While admittedly, there’s a lot of gore to be found in the film, it highlights the fact that ninja are indeed good, but require mainly the element of surprise and fear to help them achieve their goals. Unlike most other depictions of ninja, this one underscores that when stripped of their tactical advantages, the fight between a ninja and a guy carrying a high-powered gun would be a crap shoot.
Ultimately, I had low expectations for this film, going in, so I was actually mildly surprised how enjoyable a romp this turned out to be. All in all, it served its purpose: action-packed, fast-paced, light on character development, choppy on acting talent, but ultimately entertaining.
Fun Factor: A
Critical Factor: C+