Raizo (Rain) is one of the world's deadliest assassins, having been kidnapped as a child and raised by the Ozunu Clan, believed by the world to be a myth. When Raizo's friend is executed by the clan, Raizo flees into hiding. He later reemerges, seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) is a Europol agent who investigates money linked to political murders and finds that it is linked to the Ozunu Clan. She defies her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), and retrieves secret agency files to find out more. The clan, finding out about the investigation, attempts to assassinate her, but she is rescued by Raizo. Hiding in Europe, Raizo and Mika must find a way to take down the Ozunu Clan.
Having seen this on the same premiere night as New Moon, I thought of worse ways of killing time, given that I'm not particularly big on martial arts and ninja flicks and have only seen quite a few to this day.
But I do like fast-paced action and from that standpoint, Ninja Assassin delivers in spade and in style. As I would later discover, there are actually a lot of high expectations in this film, given that such names as producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix), James McTeigue (V For Vendetta), screenwriter J. Michael Stracynski (Babylon 5) and celebrated Japanese martial arts actor Sho Kosugi (who often plays a ninja anyway) are attached to it. And that may be a reason for critics to pan it, given its rather hackneyed plotline, even if the involvement of the FBI, er, the Europol is a nice touch.
Be that as it may, Ninja Assassin still makes for terrific action entertainment even as its main hero (Korean matinee idol, Rain) "looks less like an assassin and more like someone from a boy band" as one smart aleck Europol guy would snidely remark. Though a little wooden, Rain is serviceable in the lead and the very radiant Naomie Harris is even better as his foil and eventual love interest while Sho Kosugi is as usual, top-notch in yet another ninja role.
Although executed in a tad less graceful manner than the climactic action scenes of Enter The Dragon, John Woo's less celebrated Hard Target and Quentin Tarantino's overwrought Kill Bill Part 1, there is still a lot of carnage to like in Ninja Assassin, even if it does border on the gory at times.
For the most part, the movie feels like a videogame. But hey, I happen to like videogames. Whether as a film or a game, Ninja Assassin works well enough to be the blockbuster that it's expected to be. And like most blockbusters, I smell a New Moon, er, sequel forthcoming here.
Here's the trailer: