Review by Jack Foley
JAMES McTeigue’s homage to the ninja flicks of the ’80s should have been a guilty pleasure action vehicle that succeeded in spite of its faults.
But by turning Ninja Assassin into a hyper-violent, plot-lite computer game derivative it’s a boring and distasteful effort that’s just plain stupid.
Korean sensation Rain plays Raizo, a ruthless killer who was raised as an orphan to serve the secret Ozunu clan, but who has since escaped to vow revenge.
Helping him get it is a particularly poorly equipped Europol agent (Naomie Harris) and her superior (Ben Miles) who subsequently wreak a violent trail throughout Berlin in order to expose and put a stop to the shadowy organisation.
McTeigue, with a little help from producers the Wachowski brothers, attempts to put a highly stylised, noirish spin on proceedings as well as throwing buckets of gore at the screen.
And he also intercuts scenes of Raizo’s upbringing with his modern day quest.
But the result is a relentless barrage of severed limbs and body parts, or young boys punching the living daylights out of each other, which only lets up to allow Harris’ pathetic agent to piece the various plot strands together.
Nothing adds up to any real scrutiny, while the gaping plot holes and lapses in logic simply grate.
Raizo, for instance, continually leaves Harris’ agent to fend for herself despite repeatedly warning her how dangerous his rival ninjas are… while the ninjas themselves frequently assume superhero powers that are out of keeping with the realistic nature of some of the violence.
A lot of the action, meanwhile, takes on a computer game type of feel that’s unrealistic, blurred and constantly shrouded by darkness.
The result is one long bloody, boring mess that can’t end quickly enough.
Running time: 99mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: May 17, 2010.