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Ninja Assassin - DVD Review

George Dryburgh
George Dryburgh

I pose a single question.... Where was the rest of it!?

I couldn't help but be frustrated by the insultingly titled Ninja Assassin expecting more from such a stellar production team. Produced by the the Wachowski Brothers, whom you know for giving audiences the instant classic The Matrix, Ninja Assassin follows a young ninja called Raizo (played by South Korean entertainer Rain) who was raised in a dojo from a very early age by the fabled Ozunu Clan. The story is based around his quest for revenge against the clan after they killed a fellow ninja whom young Raizo was in love with. Love, loss, revenge and Ninjas, sounds great right?

Unfortunately this joyful recipe goes to waste, as Ninja Assassin ends up feeling shallow and unsatisfying. As with the majority of action movies these days the problem lies with a frustrating lack of development. Firstly so much time was spent recounting Raizo's upbringing that next to none was spent developing who he was as a man in the current setting of the story. As a result you're left feeling disconnected from the supposed hero which is made worse by a failure to delve deeper into the relationship between Raizo and Agent Mika Coretti, the female lead played by Naome Harris. You're probably thinking that despite all this there must still be pile of brainless bloody action to ogle at. I have sad news for you: Nothing even remotely interesting happens until after halfway through the movie, and even then there are only two or three scenes of admittedly stylish Ninja on Ninja combat. The result is the production team having overcompensated by making those few scenes ultraviolent.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Ninja Assassin is about half of a movie on its own, and with a more expansive script and a few more scenes it could have been a movie worthy of box office release in New Zealand. After a little research I discovered that the root of the problem happened six weeks before filming was due to start, when Andy and Lana Wachowski tossed the script and had another one written in the space of 53 hours. There are three ways to make a successful and entertaining movie: 1. Lots of time and effort, 2. Lots of money, 3. Both. While it had a heap of potential despite it's less than huge US$40 million budget, there was no care taken in developing Ninja Assassin into the blockbuster hit it could have been. Thus it joins the ever-increasing ranks of movies that fell short because the producers were just out to make a quick buck.

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