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Ninja Assassin (2009)
Written by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by James McTeigue
Runtime 99 min.
5 out of 5

Raizo (played by Rain), an orphan, was taken to a secret ninja training camp run by the Ozunu Clan when he was just a boy. After years of harsh, even deadly, training, Raizo was brought up to be the greatest ninja of the clan, even one who would one day take it over as leader.

While a child and through his growing-up years, he befriends Kiriko (Anna Sawai) and she is just as strong-willed as he is except where he lacks feeling, she has a heart and doesn’t agree with all the clan teaches. When Kiriko tries to escape, Raizo sees what it truly means to be a member of the Ozunu Clan and from then on follows his own path to take the clan down.

Enlisting the help of a Europol agent, Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris), together they try and bring the clan to justice. However, not is all what it seems and the Ozunu Clan has plans of their own. Led by Raizo’s brother, Takeshi (Rick Yune), the two are hunted, and only after the swords stop slicing and the blood cools will a victor be decided.

This movie is hardcore, man. There’s really no other word for it. Total and utter blood-soaked craziness that reminded me of Mortal Kombat (the game). I was just waiting for a low, ominous voice to say “Fatality.” Awesome.

The kung fu in this flick is intense, especially the swordplay. Those bladed fights were among some of the best I’ve seen, right up there with the stuff in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Rain looked brilliant, his body and demeanor as hard as steel. More than once was I reminded of Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon with the way he moved. The flashback sequences also worked well and really added to Raizo’s back story and firmly cemented us in his psyche so we know why he fights the way he does, why he’s on the path he’s on, and what motivates him as a ninja. Well done.

What I especially liked in this movie was the ninjas’ mystique and their power, namely the part about them being one with the shadows and the paranoia those being hunted had with the dark. The idea of always keeping the lights on and bright was a great way to play this up. The ninja-morphing with the shadows was also cool, giving the impression that these guys, after all that training, have become something more than human.

This is just one crazy bloodbath of a movie. Non-stop action. Amazing sword battles. Cool enough story to string one fight scene to the next.

Ninja Assassin is the definition of a martial arts flick.

Yeah, go check it out. Definitely.