Here's another old review I'm pulling up for your enjoyment of another movie gem that was probably missed. Check it out now that you can stream it somewhere. Originally written 11/20/09.
I have always loved the bad ninja movies from the 80s. There was a time when the Ninja was the go to action villain. My favorites were the American Ninja series - starring Michael Dudikoff and Steve James (not number 3, because he wasn't in that one, just 1,2 and 4). Incidentally, the entire first movie is on You tube, it's only 83 minutes, check it out. Here is the beach fight scene from American Ninja 2, featuring a beautiful beach, Dudikoff in a short wetsuit, and James in red trunks, oh, and piles of ninjas.
How to update that genre? Well, you make it slicker, faster, 3D, and really pour on the fake blood.
Ninja Assassin is a new movie made by people like me, who love those old terrible ninja movies, but who have more money for better effects and gallons and gallons of fake blood. The Wachowski siblings produced it, and they have a very hit and miss past with me (loved the Matrix, but not the sequels, liked V for Vendetta - didn't bother with Speed Racer). It's directed by James Mcteigue (he seems to be a Wachowski property, having previously directed Matrix Revolutions, and Speed Racer).
I will go ahead and sum up the plot for you, but you don’t really need me to; you can figure it out by the title. An orphaned young boy gets adopted by a ninja clan and trained as an assassin. He meets a girl, then watches his nemesis kill the girl, causing him to break from his clan. Saddened and alone, he begins hunting them as they hunt him. He then meets an Interpol agent who helps him. So the title works on two levels: he's a ninja assassin, and also an assassin of ninjas! It's so clever!
- The Ninja in question is played by Rain - yes, just Rain - a stunning Korean pop star, who hasn't done much of anything here, but is apparently a giant k-pop star.
- The Interpol agent is played by Naomie Harris from 28 Days Later, Miami Vice and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. The curious thing is that she's British and in this movie for some reason, she plays American, even though she's playing an Interpol agent, which is an international organization, so it would make sense for her character to be British. Things like that weird me out, just let her use her own accent!
- Sung Kang from the Fast/Furious series (he was killed in Tokyo Drift, but was definitely in Fast Four earlier this year) plays Hollywood. He has basically a cameo in the very beginning.
- The ever beautiful Rick Yune shows up for 10 minutes at the end as the nemesis just to up the quotient of handsome Korean men in the movie.
The action is incredible, there is a fight scene every five minutes and they are all interesting. They seriously used gallons and gallons of fake blood, and that's not counting all the CGI fake blood, which was probably hundreds of virtual gallons. It was an absolute kick, super fun, and a way to reinvigorate the ninja genre and make them cool and scary again - after various turtles and power rangers made them all cute and cuddly. Hooray for ninjas!
9 out of 10. Gained points for bringing the heart on the wrong side thing from the first scene back at the end, even though you knew they would. Lost a point for the accent thing, that's a weird issue i have. Gained points for Rain being just Rain, and lost points for not enough Rick Yune.
Bonus Video 1: Rain music videos
Bonus Video 2: More American Ninja
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews: