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Posted 9/13/09 , edited 9/13/09


What's the buzz on the movie "Ninja Assassin"?
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Someone has seen NINJA ASSASSIN! - 3/4/2009

Steve here. Earlier tonight in Burbank was the very first test screening of director James McTeigue's “Ninja Assassin”. I heard about it really late tonight and if I had known they were screening the film, I swear I would have put on a costume and brought a fake I.D. to get in. You know why? The Wachowski Brothers. They were involved in this film and whatever they do I see. It’s really that simple. And to those that didn’t like “Speed Racer”, you missed out on one of the best films of 2008. Yes, I just wrote that. But enough about my love of the Wachowski’s; here's what Alan Smithee thought about “Ninja Assassin”.

Alan Smithee here and I had a chance to check out Ninja Assassin tonight at a preview screening and wanted to share some thoughts.

This is foremost an old-school martial arts revenge flick, made distinguishable by elaborate effects and polished spectacle. It also has enough blood and gore to put most horror films to shame. Before even the film’s title appears, heads and limbs have popped off or been sliced in two, and the blood sprays like geysers. Fans of Kill Bill’s carnage are gonna go nuts.

It’s been produced by the Wachowski brothers, whom I’m guessing are responsible for the film’s stylized effects, which drive the action sequences to nearly insane heights. There’s fights involving swarms of ninja, crazy stunts, and one particularly good hand-to-hand fight while standing in a busy street. CG effects are often laced in, such as when the hero battles a crowd and the camera speed ramps and bobs in and out similar to the look of 300. A spray of throwing stars are dodged almost like Neo dodging bullets.



What took me by surprise though, was the brutality of the action. Guys are gutted, hit by cars, and stabbed in ways that made the audience repeatedly gasp, and, just as often, applaud. When the hero needs to kill a giant dude in a bathroom, what should be a quick assassination is drawn out into an increasingly vicious fight. By the end, the white tile walls have been sprayed entirely red.

The story is very straightforward and fairly familiar, traveling from the hero’s early days of boyhood training, to the final showdown with the master. But in this similar structure, the training scenes are the most interesting. The school for assassins-in-the-making is more like a punishing prison, forcing kids to fight one another and not be gentle about it. Like the rest of the film, the brutality in these scenes is surprising.

Rain, as an actor, is a huge improvement over his minor role in Speed Racer, although his dialogue is kept short. I just respect the guy for letting himself drop the boy band image to get cut up and ugly with a growing collection of wounds and gore throughout the movie. In an over-the-top gore film, he just rolls with it.

So that’s it. Ninja Assassin is an audience pleaser for sure. Like an amped up, CG-fueled Kill Bill. It may not signal a comeback for the ninja genre, if there was such a thing, but I have to admire a balls-out martial arts flick for the modern age.

And for those that like bullet points:

The Good:
Heavy and surprising doses of crowd-pleasing ultra-violence.
Fairly non-stop action scenes, from modern locations like freeways to an old-school dojo.
Ninjas, crouching in shadows. Gotta love 'em.

The Not So-Good:
The plot, rather than presenting an original spin on ninjas or martial arts stories, relies on cliches and archetypes. Betraying the clan, avenging a girl, fighting the master.
The relationship that grows between the hero and the female cop he's mixed up with, grows from an incomprehensible notion that he can hear her heartbeat, and that it's "special". This is also how we know the warrior hero is, in fact, gentle and sensitive.
There's the embarrassing use of Asian mysticism in some scenes, such as the act of meditation being able to heal wounds.

Source: Collider News
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Ninja Assassin Starts Production in Berlin - May 30, 2008

Filming is underway on Ninja Assassin, being directed by James McTeigue (V For Vendetta) from a screenplay by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski. Joel Silver, Grant Hill, Larry Wachowski and Andy Wachowski are producing, with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and William Fay serving as executive producers.

Ninja Assassin stars Korean pop star Rain (Speed Racer) as the central character, Raizo; Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End) as Europol researcher Mika Coretti; Ben Miles (V For Vendetta) as Europol Agent Ryan Maslow; legendary martial arts performer Sho Kosugi (Revenge of the Ninja) as the ruthless leader of the Ozunu Clan; and Rick Yune (Die Another Day) as Raizo's rival, Takeshi.

Principal photography is taking place at Babelsberg Studios and on location in various parts of Berlin.

Ninja Assassin follows Raizo (Rain), one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them... and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge.

In Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has stumbled upon a money trail linking several political murders to an underground network of untraceable assassins from the Far East. Defying the orders of her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), Mika digs into top secret agency files to learn the truth behind the murders. Her investigation makes her a target, and the Ozunu Clan sends a team of killers, led by the lethal Takeshi (Rick Yune), to silence her forever. Raizo saves Mika from her attackers, but he knows that the Clan will not rest until they are both eliminated. Now, entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse through the streets of Europe, Raizo and Mika must trust one another if they hope to survive…and finally bring down the elusive Ozunu Clan.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub, production designer Graham "Grace" Walker, costume designer Carlo Poggioli and editor Giancarlo Ganziano. The Wachowski brothers’ longtime stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch are also on board as second unit co-directors.

Ninja Assassin is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation in association with Legendary Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment.

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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'Ninja Assassin' Star Rain Answers Your Questions - Sep 4 2009 7:00 PM EDT
Pop star/ actor reveals his dream collaborator: 'Al Pacino is my hero. I want to work with him.'

MTV debuted the first full clip from the much-anticipated Joel Silver-produced action flick "Ninja Assassin" on Friday night (September 4) on "Behind the Screen," and for anyone who saw it, you can't say the film won't live up to its title. Swordplay and stunts galore, even in the heat of oncoming traffic — this one's got the goods. And at the center of it all, a man who needs just one name: Rain.

The young Korean actor is already a pop-culture phenomenon in his native land. Now, with his first starring role, he seems poised to earn some new fans in the States. Eagle-eye fans of the pop star/ actor caught him in his first studio production last year, in the big-budget spectacle that was "Speed Racer." This holiday season, it's all on his shoulders, though, when "Ninja Assassin" hits theaters November 25.

Rain agreed to answer some questions sent in by MTV readers. Here are his answers, just for you:

Question: The scenes in this movie look insane! Were you ever injured on set?

Rain: I have lots of cuts on my body. When I was doing a stunt, even though everyone took care of me, I still got hurt a lot.

Question: I heard the training you went through for the movie was really tough. What was the hardest part?

Rain: The diet was the hardest part. I ate chicken breast for eight months with vegetables. That was terrible. No sugar. No salt. I don't want to eat chicken breast anymore. I like junk food, French fries, hamburgers — I love it.

Question: Is there any action star you'd like to team up with for a movie?

Rain: When I was young, "Scarface" was my favorite film. Al Pacino is my hero. I want to work with him.

Question: Do you sing in the movie? And do you have any plans for an English-language album?

Rain: I don't sing in my film, and I don't have plans yet for an English album, but I will. Please wait for me.

Source: MTV News
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