ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Ninja Assassin (2009)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: James McTeigue

Starring:
Rain/Raizo
Naomie Harris/Mika
ShĂ´ Kosugi/Ozunu
Ben Miles/Maslow
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Pretty boy Ninja (Rain) got shafted by his Ninja clan back in the days. So now in present day time, he’s out for payback against his former comrades in black pajamas. A couple of cops get stuck in the ninja-star crossfire and mark my words when I say: it gets BLOODY!
THE LOWDOWN
I was bred on Ninja movies when younger. ENTER THE NINJA, REVENGE OF THE NINJA, NINJA 3 THE DOMINATION, the poseur yet fun AMERICAN NINJA PART 1 and 2, the classic PRAY FOR DEATH… name it; I’ve seen it and dug it on some level. In them days, seeing some Kun Fu-ing schmuck wearing a black pajama and a peek-a-boo hood was the hippest thing since snapped necks. Then something happened, Ninjas became lame and even tacky. This years NINJA ASSASSIN aimed to undo that wrong. Did it succeed?

I was pumped beyond belief for this one. Gore makers DARK CASTLE teaming up with V FOR VENDETTA director James McTeigue to do a Ninja movie that co stars Ninja Godfather SHO KUSUGI? WTF???? Fanboy boner UNLOAD!!!!!!!!! Now that I’ve seen the film, it didn’t meet my expectations but still gave me a chop-sockey good time at the movies. NINJA ASSASSIN did a lot right. The flick had me early when it showcased its balls to the wall gore tendencies. This was EASILY the bloodiest Ninja movie ever made. Yeah sure lots of it was CGI plasma but I didn’t give an ounce of a shit. Seeing a Ninja chopping peeps in half, beheading others or taking out limbs left and right slapped a huge smile on my face. The same went for the powerful back-story as to our hero. Granted it was clichéd beyond belief when taking into account the subgenre but I still got into it big time. The execution was bang on for the most part and the subplot tapped all of the proper emotional notes.

And to say I got all kinds of cheap thrills out of seeing Ninjas causing mayhem in our present society, running down a busy highway or busting some moves on a rooftop was an understatement. What a sight to behold! McTeigue did it right! His Ninjas were often draped in shadows, hence retaining an aura of mystery, ducking the cheesy card and even being somewhat scary. I loved it! Action wise, this one was uneven but when it did it well, it had my blood rushing through my veins! The first block and the last block showcased enough fly hand to hand fights, swords battles, ninja-star throwing madness (They machine gun throw those f*ckers…damn!) to geek me up real good. I was grateful for those. The cast was ideal as well. Rain as Raizo showcased a magnetic presence and able martial arts skills, Naomie Harris elevated her meh role to a higher plane via her charisma and solid chops while having Sho Kusugi play the villain was a stroke of genius. The latter still had it! You know that thing that differentiates an actor from a movie star? Sho Kusugi is a f*cking movie star and to see him Ninja it up one more time was beyond a hoot for me. Welcome home brother!

Add to all that Jazz mucho groovy camera moves, all kinds of money shots (loved the Ninja swarming the ceiling shot – wow) a pulse pounding score that hit the mark (that techno riff was badass) and bleak cinematography that did the film right and you get a could have been GREAT opus, if it had all its whores in a row. Sadly, the film let me down via its inconsistencies with its action bits. For every well choreographed and shot fist to cuff we also got messy, badly edited, too close, too dark, too shaky, we don’t see squat set pieces. What a shame, as the set ups for the aforementioned scenes were gold and they went on to NOT deliver. The present day story also bored me to acid tears for the most part. Sloppy, sporting some plot holes, dumb moves to serve plot and just plain lazy, the movie insulted me as to how it moved its sad sack story forward. This sucka didn’t fully capitalize on its narrative elements that's for sure. The present day love angle was simpleton at best, the investigation subplot awkward and the vengeance thing not all that it could’ve been. Look I don’t expect or want Goodfellas when watching a Ninja movie, but having the story basics ably covered and put out is not too much to ask in my opinion. This one couldn’t even pull that off.

And when I was finally rushed to the last block, I was bummed to see that instead of keeping it intimate and personal for maximum whoopass, the flick decided to include a third party and by result watering down what could have been a mucho satisfying finale. NOTE: The ending was a blatant rip off the one found in AMERICAN NINJA 2. It worked then, but it didn’t work now, not for me anyways. All in all, NINJA ASSASSIN was like me in bed after having hit the sauce too heavily: hit and miss. With a stronger screenplay and more consistency with its action scenes, it could’ve been a different story. With that yapped: Ninjas in the motherf*cking house! Who’s not happy!
GORE
This one was a blood bath. Heads cut off, severed limbs, stabbings…the works baby…THE WORKS. Lots of it was CGI, but it didn’t bother me none for once. How come? Beats me!
T & A
Ninjas have no time for tits or/and asses – too much killing in creative ways to do.
BOTTOM LINE
NINJA ASSASSIN had half of its cup filled with yummy blood. Solid actors, some visceral action sequences, slick visuals, Ninjas portrayed in a gnarly ass way and gore/brutality cranked up to f*ck yeah! Moreover, seeing Sho Kusugi do the Ninja dance one more time was a big treat for this fan! The dude owned it hardcore! Alas, the story was often rushed, the screenplay was weak in places, even for a Ninja film, while some of the fights were half cocked as to their execution. Not the Holy Grail of Ninja movies I was hoping for but still a blast to tap none the less! Hopefully the upcoming Scott Adkins starring NINJA will excel where this one went limp. I need more NINJAS in my life! BRING EM!
BULL'S EYE
After acting with Rain in Speed Racer, John Goodman called him "the hardest working man in show business."

I once had sit down chat/smokes with Naomie Harris, she was the sweetest girl ever.

Rain is a popular South Korean pop singer, dancer, model.

J. Michael Straczynski rewrote Matthew Sand's script six weeks before the shoot began.

The flick was produced by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix).

ROUND KICK THE NINJA ASSASSIN SITE HERE

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4:46PM on 02/16/2010

Better Than I Expected

I actually liked this flick a lot more than I thought I would. The CGI blood was a little peculiar and I agree that some of the fight scenes were too dark. But overall it was a blast and RAIN really did well in the fight scenes. I also give a bonus star for casting Sho Kosugi as the head bad Ninja. I would really like to see a PERIOD Ninja movie set in feudal Japan maybe along the lines of the Tenchu video game series. Ninjas taking on bows, arrows and swords would be more believable than
I actually liked this flick a lot more than I thought I would. The CGI blood was a little peculiar and I agree that some of the fight scenes were too dark. But overall it was a blast and RAIN really did well in the fight scenes. I also give a bonus star for casting Sho Kosugi as the head bad Ninja. I would really like to see a PERIOD Ninja movie set in feudal Japan maybe along the lines of the Tenchu video game series. Ninjas taking on bows, arrows and swords would be more believable than Ninjas taking out swat teams...
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1:08PM on 11/30/2009

I enjoyed this except for...

A lot of the ninja battles in the middle of the film was in too dark of settings. I get that they are ONE with the shadows but I would have liked to have seen what was going n more in the fights rather than stare at a almost entirely black screen and seeing some red stuff kind of fly around.
A lot of the ninja battles in the middle of the film was in too dark of settings. I get that they are ONE with the shadows but I would have liked to have seen what was going n more in the fights rather than stare at a almost entirely black screen and seeing some red stuff kind of fly around.
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