Wrong. Director James McTeigue, the Wachowski Brothers and co have managed to take a great concept and ruin a majority of it by the overuse of CGI, some terrible dialogue and a plot that was at times nothing short of ridiculous.
The story is of a Ninja called Raizo (Rain) who as a young child was taken from the streets to be trained as a Ninja killing machine who is then banished as he fails to follow the code of the Ozunu clan by his master played by the Ninja acting legend Sho Kosugi. Raizo presumed dead waits to get revenge for the death of his friend and the attempt on his life.
This part of the film is ok with Rain performing brilliantly as Raizo with the Ninja fights and all the cool Ninja moves which is what we all want to see in our Ninja films but then that film would only have lasted an hour or so, so what is added is a ridiculously contrived story of Europol getting involved where female agent Mika(Naomie Harris) has found a money trail linking numerous political assassinations to Ninjas on the basis that 100 lbs of gold were paid to an account and history tells that this was always the payment Ninjas were paid.
Mika’s boss Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles) gets involved with the Ninja story and from what I can understand both get investigated by the CIA, FBI etc as they are getting to close to “the truth” and during the night Ninjas come to kill off Mika but she is saved by Raizo.
We then follow the story of Raizo keeping Mika safe, avoiding the government agencies, trying to find/fight his former clan brothers and to kill his former mentor and father figure Ozunu that ends with a climatic stupid battle of Ninjas vs government soldiers and a potentially great but in the end disappointing fight where Raizo faces Ozunu.
As I said the plot is ridiculous with some overlong exposition which are put in place just to set up each round of Ninja fighting Ninjas where Raizo takes on almost endless amounts of foes almost entirely in the dark, which is where I have my main problem with the film. When you watch the excellent footage below of Rain training for the film you get a real sense of the technical and physical ability of these martial artists and most of it is lost in the over use of dark scenes where you lose all visual reference of what is going on as the camera zooms in and out, cuts rapidly and the slow motion takes much of the momentum the action tries to build.
The Ninjas have added blur to them as they move which I thought looked stupid and unnecessary, there was loads of CGI Ninja throwing stars being thrown from every dirrecion on screen that looked messy and then of course there is the amazingly bad CGI blood that spurts out of every decapitation which looks terrible and when you look back at films like Kill Bill where the bride faces off in the House of Blue Leaves, there is really no need for the CGI blood. It just made it all to comical and cartoony when it could have been something so much more exciting.
In the opening scene of the film we witness a room with 10 or so bad guys that all get taken out in an exciting and visually gory assault by an unseen Raizo who hides in the shadows which is slightly comical but yet brutal and cool to watch and its the direction the film should have gone in probably worth seeing itself as we see the stealth and killing skills of these legendary assassins in all its glory.
The Ozunu Clan’s training of the children and a young Raizo rising to a Ninja is great and quite entertaining that sets up the mythology well and shows a horrible method in getting to that level. Rain shows incredible dedication to the role that stands out amongst the supporting cast but that’s not hard against their wooden performances that almost ruin the film and so in the end the bad outweighs the good in Ninja Assassin unfortunately, but there is enough to please fans and anyone needing to unwind for some brainless action and violence but I will always feel it missed a big opportunity to relaunch the Ninja Movie genre which is a real shame.
Ninja Assassin is out on the 8th January.