Directed by James McTeigue. Starring Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune. (2009, R, 99 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 27, 2009
Pitched somewhere between a preadolescent boy's fantasy world of nunchaku and shuriken (or fighting sticks and throwing stars) and a wildly off-kilter exercise in homoerotic beefcakery, this astonishingly crappy slo-mo gorefest proves once and for all that McTeigue wasn't the man responsible for the excellent V for Vendetta. Although he was credited as director, it's now apparent that the Wachowski brothers, who wrote and produced and at the time of V's release were rumored to have "assisted” with that nihilistic heartstopper of a film, were, in fact, at the helm. I'm not sure there's anybody at the helm of Ninja Assassin, which just flat-out sucks rice dumplings, beginning with its generic title on down to its preposterously dumb view of the ups and downs and, you know, bullet-avoidance techniques of your average contemporary ninja. That would be ginchy Korean pop-lite star Rain who plays Raizo, who was abducted as a child by the not even vaguely mysterious Ozuno Clan, and thereafter raised to be, like, totally unkillable and way superbuff. The convoluted and really, really lousy storyline has sexy, Berlin-based Interpol agent Mika Coretti (Harris) digging up connections between a recent spate of high-profile international assassinations and the Ozunus. Thus both the now-you-see-him, now-you-see-him-with-his-shirt-off Raizo – who can appear out of nowhere, rain down razor-edged throwing stars, and then disappear in less time than it will take Ninja Assassin to exit your local theatre – and Coretti are targeted for death by … oh, seriously, who cares? Ninja Assassin, awash in a veritable flood of patently fake CG blood – some of which ends up bespotting the "camera," no less – feels like getting stuck on Level 1 of the 1992 beta version Mortal Kombat for two hours. It's so unreal it hurts.