Posted by: Dr P | February 2, 2010

Ninja Assassin

If you’re at all squeamish you probably better click away from this review now. And, yes, I’m well aware that many of my existing reviews have people cringing, and often leave you with a sinking feeling in your gut, but this film took gore to a whole new level.

The fun started in the car (steady!), as Big G and I speculated that this could possibly be the silliest movie we’d ever seen (as it turned out, it really wasn’t, but the title was spectacularly daft).

“Ninja Assassin, huh, this could be a bit silly, Gareth”
“Sounds right for us then”
“Yep. They could have made it sillier though”
“How?”
“Well what about Disabled Chinese Ninja Assassin?”
“Maybe. What about aliens? Ninja Assassin Predator?”
“Haha! Or maybe the rude adult version … Sexy Ninja Assassin Predator (SNAP for short) … in a wheelchair!!!”
“Oh god it’s started, hasn’t it ….”

This went on all the way to Bolton, at which point we decided that the cut down S.N.A.P. was the way forward (complete with funky animated toys and a rap record).

For about the 17th cinema visit in a row, we were served by the same girl. She must think I live there by now. Anyway we always try and engage her in conversation, but this time, she said “Oh god, there’s no way I’m watching that. It’s REALLY gory”. G and I looked at each other and he said “Right, is it in 3D?”. We decided to pass on food, just in case it actually turned out to be as violent as she suggested.

And oh my god it was. Within the opening scene we saw one guy get his head sliced off … just above the jaw (nice), about 45 limbs go flying, guts splattering the screen, fountains of blood. I actually leaned over and was just about to say “Pass the nuts” when someone got sliced … you guessed it … right through the groin and upwards. Nice. I have absolutely no idea how they filmed this (well obviously it’s CGI/models) but my god it was grossly realistic!

By the time the opening scene ended I was starting to get a bit blase about the blood and felt that probably not much would shock me at that point – though I still wouldn’t have been able to bring myself to listen to anything by Daniel Bedingfield.

The film settled down quickly and the main protagonists were revealed. A secret group of Japanese clans have trained ninja warriors for centuries – we saw quite a bit of this as the movie went on. One recent trainee, Raizo, quickly grew disheartened with their utter cruelty and senseless disregard for anyone and everyone in their way and has abandoned them; this has forced him to live a secret life, as any clan outcasts are hunted down. Meanwhile he is seeking vengeance on the clan leader for brutally torturing and murdering his girlfriend, a fellow trainee.

Raizo falls under the attention of a Europol agent who has started to link a series of murders to these Japanese clans. With the clan secrets closely guarded, the Europol agent, a girl with the amusing name of Mika (no she’s not played by Grace Kelly, before anyone else says it), becomes a target for the assassins, and thus Raizo is forced not only to try and protect her, but also to join forces to hunt down the ninjas.

That’s about as much plot as you need, really. We see loads of flashbacks to Raizo’s training and get the backstory of his girlfriend and their relationship; this is all really brutal and nasty – the stuff the kids go through is ghastly to watch, in a morbidly fascinating way. Plus there’s loads of cool stunts and the best range of weaponry this side of Genghis Khan.

The film rapidly climaxes (oh do stop tittering) with an extended assault on the ninja fortress, in which almost everyone gets sliced and diced. It’s a bit like watching Jamie Oliver and Gary Rhodes in a vegetable chopping contest, but with better weapons and more blood. Vengeance is served one way or another (look, no-one in their right mind is going to go see this film, so I might as well tell you what happens), there’s monstrous carnage, and by this time G and I are sat there going “ooooh, there goes another leg” or “blimey, he’s literally going to pieces”.

Considering how violent and silly it all sounds, it’s actually a pretty good movie all told. The backstory of Raizo’s training and his burgeoning relationship with its tragic finale is pretty well realised – in many ways it’s the central storyline which lets it down a little. The ninjas do possess some seriously amazing abilities, and the stunts are absolutely fabulous. Just wish they’d toned down the gore just a tad.

Worth a look if you don’t mind guts and gore, or are into martial arts.

Oh and there’s not a Predator in sight … with these ninjas around, he wouldn’t last 5 minutes …

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