Ninjas are, by tradition, very secretive and set in their ways. Nothing churns out boring, cheerless, masochistic taskmasters quite like hiding out in remote mountain villages for generations with limited contact to the outside world. Ninja Assassin demonstrates this perfectly, in a series of annoying flashback sequences that explain the reasons behind protagonist Raizo’s quest for bloody revenge. Korean pretty-boy pop sensation Rain takes on the role of Raizo, a trained assassin intent on bringing down the Ozuno ninja clan that shaped him into a killer.
Ninja Assassin starts out promisingly–bloodbaths are always promising. Some whiny little rich kid playing at being a gangster gets a ninja hit notice, and then gets cut into screaming chunks along with his hysterical cronies. I can get behind this. The old tattoo artist surviving a ninja attack because his heart is on the right side of his chest, though? That’s a rookie mistake. I find that decapitation is a good way to make sure your target is really dead. I’m going to leave Ryu in so many parts that even Miss Monday and her cybernetic marvels won’t be able to bring him back.
The fight scenes just go downhill from there… and then come the endless training montages showcasing Rain’s scrawny shirtless torso. I look much better shirtless–you should see me when I go into Bloodlust mode. Ladies, the line forms on the right, and you must be Miss Monday’s cup size or larger to ride. Mika, the hot researcher Raizo enlists to help him reach Ozuno, doesn’t measure up, but she is pretty scrappy and has legs that go on for miles.
As the movie goes on, you learn that kid Raizo wimped out and stayed in the stuffy ninja training camp like a loser instead of running off and giving his stodgy old master the finger with his girlfriend. This is what I’m talking about; clan leaders are old farts that demand respect and dole out punishments, but never rewards. Who the hell wants to live like that? All work and no play, and some pompous old man poking his fingers or a weapon into your guts and telling you to take it like a man–**** that.
Cut back to present day, and pretty much the worst ninja vs. ninja action ever. Raizo’s sad attempt at retaliation lands him bloodied and floating as fishbait–hey, that’s an idea! Maybe I’ll feed Ryu’s limbs to the fishes after I rip them off his body. It’d be more entertaining than Ninja Assassin’s choppy slow-motion shots, circus sideshow acrobatics, and ninjas running into oncoming traffic.
Long story short: Raizo eliminates Ozuno, Mika gets stabbed in the not-heart, and yet more half-assed ninjas fall to gunfire like amateurs: The End. Ninja Assassin would have been better starring me; maybe I’ll ask Miss Monday to have a camera rolling when I finally get my hands on Ryu Hayabusa.