By: Felipe M
“He looks like he should be in a boy band,” chortled a German law enforcement agent as he looked into a monitor where he could see the film’s protagonist chained up in a separate room as the prisoner, in turn, looks immediately right back into the camera that observes his every lack of movements, concerning the agent enough to ask “He didn’t really hear me, did he?” It is an obvious, funny reference to Korean-born actor Rain who, before playing Ninja’s main role of Raizo, got his start in the entertainment business as a member of K-Pop boy band, Fanclub. The rest of the dialogue for this film is lackluster as the core of this movie is focused on fast-paced action and visual effects to deliver pools upon pools of blood to the big screen.
The main plot tells the story, in flashback form, of a young, perhaps 10 year-old Raizo who was forced to train with the infamous, but stealthy Ozunu Clan to become an effective mercenary killer—or skilled ninja assassin (hence the title of the flick!). You’ll see the Clan attempt to dehumanize Raizo with numerous “pain is weakness leaving your body” exercises as he and many other kids just like him slowly, but surely turn into human killing machines. While at Ninja Assassin Camp, Raizo meets and begins to develop very strong feelings for a girl at the camp who bravely fights the Clan’s attempt to “train” her and even escapes from the camp—only to be captured and executed in front of her fellow Ninja trainees by a fellow Ninja trainee. An obvious turning point for Raizo, he would later attempt his own escape from the Clan only to be captured, maimed, and be left for dead. Now forward to the present in Germany, where the Clan is on the hunt to look for a female agent who is looking to uncover the Clan’s dark secrets and any other time, she would be murdered by the Clan’s highly capable ninjas before she can even inhale her last breath--except for the fact that Raizo gets word that she is on the Clan’s hit list and saves her life. The rest of the movie is a game of hide-n-seek between Raizo, the female agent and the predatory-like band of ninjas waiting to slice the two of them into a thousand pieces.
Despite the somewhat promising storyline, the script fails miserably in developing characters as Raizo is turned into a cartoon character as not only does he inflict unimaginable physical pain and suffering to others, but the damage his own body takes should leave the viewer wondering if the main character should just be killed to stop his own bodily misery. As mentioned before, don’t expect any semblance of dialogue from this film as even great, prefabricated quotes like the famous “I’ll be back” are nowhere to be found. Even the film’s supposed saving grace, the package of action that it promises, is too fast for the normal eye to keep up and even worse is the fact that most action takes place in the dark or, at best, in dimly lit rooms as to take better advantage of the story’s ninjas' stealthy abilities. You’ll find yourself trying to imagine what exactly is going on in scenes as the only clues you have are based on shadow movements before streams of blood begins to flow onto the screen along with flying limbs and body parts, and gushed entrails.