Ninja Assassin is the type of movie that I had to see in the theaters. As a new father my opportunities to indulge in the absolute escapism of the multiplex are few and far between and when one of these opportunities presents itself it is not to be taken for granted. Certainly there may have been “better” movies playing at the cinema that day. There were probably a litany of films that contained more social awareness, more refined story telling and, at minimum, a modicum of redeeming qualities. But this was one of three occasions that I’ve been able to see a movie on the big screen since my son was born and god-dammit I needed to stuff as much awesome into my soft head parts as I could. And as that lights dimmed I felt like Richard Simmons at an all dick buffet: excited, happy and not leaving until I couldn’t possible stuff any more into my face.
“Oh if I could only unhinge my jaw”
Before we get to the meat of this review I wanted to note that there were a lot of children in the theater. Young Children. Considering the movie was rated R with an explanation that read, “Strong, bloody, stylized violence throughout…” this didn’t strike me as the type of film you should take a child to see no matter how many times they begged. My suspicions were confirmed when, in the first five minutes of the movie, a dude’s head gets lopped off just above his jaw. As the man’s corpse stood there for a moment, tongue waggling and still trying to talk, three of the children started crying. I knew I had made the right choice. This movie was like driving a bulldozer through a shopping mall full of elderly people. Inappropriate but so extremely bad ass that no questions why it’s happening.
At the heart of it, Ninja Assassin is a movie that I wrote when I was six years old. It contains all of the elements that would have made little me smile like a priest at a “little boys that know how to keep a secret”convention. As we all know; Ninjas are some kind of bad-ass that this galaxy can barely comprehend. What kind of super awesome would it be if one Ultraninja turned against his ninja brethren and had to face them and his former master all alone; John McClane style? Oh, also, this lone ninja might make friends with a bunch of dude’s with machine guns.
As I mentioned the movie starts with the resurgence of ninjas as they rip apart a group of hoodlums like so much meat in a blender. Then there’s a bunch of people – who are not ninjas – that do a bunch talking, Then we do some flashbacks where we see ninja training. The movie goes in cycles like this. Fucking awesome, followed by people I wish would shut the fuck up, followed by out takes from Kill Bill. It’s obvious that the film makers decided that 90 minutes of straight ninja ass-kicking would cause the audience’ heads to explode which is why they slowed it down at certain points. Personally I would have been satisfied with a thirty minute short film that cut through all of the bullshit and simply showed ninjas doing what ninjas do best: breakin’ motherfuckers off somethin’ fierce.
Any time two or more ninjas are on screen they are contractually required by the almighty to turn the waking world into a living, breathing human Ginsu bent on consuming its surroundings in a whirling dervish of flailing arms and glinting ninja steal. Any unfortunate soul who wanders aimlessly into the edges of this all consuming death machine is torn to bite size pieces and spread evenly across crackers like so much squeezable bacon paste. After each fight I’m pretty sure that I shit myself because what I had just seen was so awesome that it felt like my colon had been round house kicked in the face!
POW.RIGHT IN THE BROWN EYE!
But all of the totally awesome ninjas ass-kicking aside, it’s what we take away from a movie that matters. It’s the parts of the film that with us that make us a different person. At the end of the day this movie can teach us a thing or two about or own humanity and our place in the world. It can teach us to understand and accept different cultures, no matter how out-dated they may be. And it also teaches us that if a problem presents itself it more than likely can be solved with a well placed ninja star to the face. Because that’s how ninjas handle their shit.