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Movie Review: Ninja Assassin

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Congratulations, gentlemen. After months of suffering through all those wretched date-night chick flicks this year, your revenge has finally arrived. Now that New Line Cinema’s final theatrical releases are being distributed by Warner Bros. I hope this means that with the recent success of The Final Destination (the fourth and supposed “final” installment in spite of being the highest grossing yet), and what the filmmakers of Ninja Assassin (both Warner Bros. films) have unleashed upon us, this new blood gets my vote as to who should be placed in charge of a fifth Final Destination.

Producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski Brothers, along with director James McTeigue, aren’t necessarily known for bringing forth a bloodbath such as the likes of their new film, Ninja Assassin, but it definitely gives most gore fests a clear run for their money. Yes, it is a video game adaptation but all’s fair when you think a scene can’t possibly become any more gruesome then along comes another whizzing throwing star or swishing katana sword to slice another limb and spill gallons of blood.

In case you were ever wondering just how much blood the human body contains do not look to this film for answers. Every wound and lopped off appendage sprays a never-ending fountain of bright red blood. Coagulates are at an all-time low and the film feels more like an Americanized remake of Ichi the Killer from one of Japan’s busiest directors, cult favorite Takashi Miike.

The filmmaking assemblage here could possibly result in Miike having to make something even more outlandish as the ante has been upped considerably. Any filmmakers who cut from blood beginning to drip from a dryer to ketchup squirted upon a batch of French fries have their own sense of humor about them and I’m more than happy to share it.

The opening scene sets an immediate tone as a group of goofy Yakuza boys are hanging out while one is being tattooed. A sealed envelope is delivered full of black sand which immediately catches the attention of the old man delivering said tattoo. He delivers a speech warning the young men that the last time he saw that type of envelope he only survived the blood-soaked attack due to a convenient birth defect which caused his heart to develop in the wrong spot (and if you think that won’t rear its head again before the show's over you are far from the target demographic).

A quick attack nastily disposes of everyone, including the man whose heart’s on the wrong sleeve, which is brought to the attention of Berlin-stationed Europol agent Mika (Naomie Harris) who’s also discovered a money trail linking numerous political assassinations to an underground society of assassins. She brings this to the attention of her superior and confidante Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles) who at first doesn’t believe her until Mika is attacked herself after searching through secret files given to her by the wife of one of the assassination victims.

Raizo (Rain) was raised in this world of secret ninjas known as the Ozunu Clan and through flashbacks we see all the clichéd but still fun-to-watch training exercises which are brutal, bloody, and unflinching. While growing up in this world he also finds time for a love interest who is killed after she decides she’d rather live a free life. Now Raizo is out for revenge against the Ozunu Clan and wants to protect Mika to try and bring down everyone involved including his master, Takeshi (Rick Yune).

This being a movie about ninjas makes the plot way more convoluted than I have made it sound. The reason anyone will want to run out and watch this movie is because they know what they are getting: plenty of action scenes, ridiculously choreographed fight scenes, and body parts flung at the screen to no end. This was the first time I have watched a film of this type and actually longed for a 3-D IMAX release. As if the film wasn’t already silly and funny enough it would completely add a whole new level of meaning to in-your-face.

Speaking of which, there is a particular fight scene that takes place in a bathroom that is so outrageous and blood splattered yet brutal and disgusting that it gives new depth to the meaning of bathroom “break.” Someone’s face pounded into the edge of a porcelain urinal is gross once, but when it is continually hammered into at least five times it just makes it hilarious. This opinion is not just mine; the audience seemed to think this was hilarious too as there was a growing sound of laughter as the scene progressed.

Anyone who has born witness this year to the likes of Bride Wars, The Ugly Truth, Confessions of a Shopaholic, He’s Just Not That into You or All About Steve have rightfully deserved this hilarious splatterfest. Any girl who thinks she can’t sit through this should have to after the abysmal onslaught of chick flicks forced upon the male consciousness this year. You don’t have to watch the trailer to know what you’re in for but keeping your female counterpart away from it will more than likely help your cause.

Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.