[50points] The Onion (A.V. Club) Nathan Rabin

If Ninja Assassin boasted sexual content equivalent to its level of violence, it would be rated NC-17 and repulse even the most dedicated perverts. However, the MPAA is much more accommodating when it comes to wall-to-wall bloodshed than consensual relations between loving adults. So while the ratings board might go into conniptions over an art film in which a woman receives oral sex, it has no problem with a protagonist who spends most of his time vivisecting enemies with a sharp chain that tears through flesh like a knife through butter. Ninja Assassin is ostensibly a vehicle for Korean pop star Rain, but the real star is the blood that gushes and spurts from the wounds of an army of interchangeable bad guys.


Perhaps best known stateside as Stephen Colbert’s faux arch-nemesis on The Colbert Report, Rain plays a ninja whom evil sensei Sho Kosugi trained from an early age to become an unstoppable killing machine. When Rain’s clan kills one of his dearest friends and asks him to murder a woman caught trying to run away, he turns on his former comrades and is targeted for death. Meanwhile, Interpol agent Naomie Harris tries to convince her skeptical bosses that a ninja clan is behind a string of murders.


For all its flaws, V For Vendetta --the previous collaboration between Ninja Assassin director James McTeigue and its producers, Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers-- at least boasted admirable ambition. Ninja Assassin, in sharp contrast, feels like a second-rate take on the blood-splattered pulp melodramas of Luc Besson, right down to a peculiar streak of shameless sentiment. Ninja’s torturous script mirrors the convoluted storytelling and elaborate mythologizing that ruined the Matrix sequels. It devotes much, if not most, of its running time to flashback upon flashback upon flashback. How is an action movie that aims for kinetic thrills supposed to develop any forward momentum when it spends so much time looking back?

「V for vanddetta」(本作の前にニンジャアサシン監督のジェイムズ・マクティーグ、プロデューサーのジョエル・シルバーとウォシャウスキー兄弟が顔を揃えた前作)は欠点だらけではあったが、少なくとも立派な野心を持っていたことを誇れる。それとは全く正反対に「ニンジャアサシン」は恥知らずな感傷の風変わりな痕を徹底的に残そうとしたリュック・ベッソンの三流メロドラマ風味のB級スプラッタ映画のようだと感じる。忍者の拷問シーンの脚本は、分かりづらい物語構成と入念な作り話を反映していて、マトリックス三部作を台無しにしてしまうものだった。回想シーン中の回想シーン中の回想シーンに、ほとんどとは言わないまでも多くの時間を割いてしまった。過去の話に多大な時間を費やしてしまう映画に、どうして新開発の未来的な動きによる動的な興奮をひきおこすアクションが期待できるだろうか。

[40points] Variety - Rob Nelson

Seemingly made to capitalize on a dubious CG innovation -- namely, the slicing of bodies in half by whizzing five-pointed stars -- "Ninja Assassin" has little else to recommend it, not even laughs. Working again with the Wachowski brothers as producers, director James McTeigue delivers a lower-brow, somewhat livelier work than the team's "V for Vendetta." But unless the viewer is easily delighted by ultraviolence for its own sake, this thinly plotted movie about a young ninja's revenge against his cruel trainers will disappoint. Warner Bros.' Nov. 25 release should nonetheless prove effective as holiday-season counterprogramming, at least in the short term.

みたところ、唸りを上げる五方手裏剣が人体を半分に切断するといった胡散臭いCG新技術をつぎ込むために作られたのだろう「ニンジャアサシン」は、ほとんどおすすめ出来るものでないし笑えるものでもない。プロデューサーとしてのウォシャウスキー兄弟とジェイムズ・マクティーグ監督が再びタッグを組み低予算で配給される映画であり、「V for Vendetta」よりはいくぶん生き生きした作品だ。しかしそれでも、超絶バイオレンスを楽しみにやってきて簡単に大喜びするような視聴者でさえ、若いニンジャが自分の一族の師匠に復讐をするというこの薄っぺらなプロットの映画にがっかりするだろう。それにも関わらずこの映画を11月25日に公開したワーナー・ブラザーズは、少なくとも短期的にでもこの映画が年末連休シーズンの対抗映画として効果的であると証明しなければならない。

Korean pop star Rain conjures only a mild drizzle as Raizo, a limber bone-snapper trained from a young age by a secret society of child-abducting killer-for-hire ninjas. Early flashbacks reveal Raizo to have been taken in as an orphan by the Ozunu Clan, which he defies by running away in the wake of his sweetheart's murder by cold-blooded Lord Ozunu (Sho Kosugi).


The pic's present-day action, set in Berlin, revolves around Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris), a gorgeous Europol agent whose latenight sleuthing uncovers a financial connection between recent political assassinations and the Ozunu. Naturally, the agent herself is targeted for assassination, as chief Ozunu baddie Takeshi (Rick Yune) and his blade-tossing ninja comrades come West to forcibly halt the investigation. As if possessed of psychic powers, Raizo, hiding out in Europe, senses a chance to save a lovely lady where he had failed in the same task years before.


Eventually the film leads to a Europol-led shootout and a pair of unmemorably acrobatic duels between Raizo and his two archrivals -- "older brother" Takeshi and raspy-voiced "father" Ozunu.


Though "Ninja Assassin" is implausible on countless levels, Raizo's training to feel nothing at least gels with Rain's ability to emote nothing. Harris, a strong presence in Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" feature, acquits herself capably here, reacting believably to the incessant carnage around her.


Of course, the film's raison d'etre is precisely its blood-soaked combination of physical stunts and digital trickery, the latter favored to a fault. While not remotely on par with the Wachowskis' "bullet time" f/x in "The Matrix," the ridiculous torrent of flying blades and flayed flesh here does appear unique in technological terms, and certainly pushes the pic's R rating to its limits.


Indeed, such is the film's level of insinuated gore that the frustratingly dark texture of many fight-scene shots can perhaps be explained by a post-production bid to avoid an NC-17. Whatever the case, the shadowy action is too often incomprehensible, except in the general sense that heads, limbs and torsos are being severed in massive numbers.


If there's a sick joke to be had from this sort of human meat-carving, it isn't found by McTeigue and his key collaborators, including conventionally quick-cutting editors Gian Ganziano and Joseph Jett Sally.


Where the pic does excel is in its immersive sound design, as swords, chains and myriad other weapons seem to sail around the theater, at times helping to clarify the dimly lit action.


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