Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James McTeigue|
|Produced by||Joel Silver
|Screenplay by||Matthew Sand
J. Michael Straczynski
|Story by||Matthew Sand|
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Editing by||Gian Ganziano
Joseph Jett Sally
Dark Castle Entertainment
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Ninja Assassin is a 2009 American-German martial arts film directed by James McTeigue. The story was written by Matthew Sand, with a screenplay penned by J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5. The film stars South Korean pop musician Rain as a disillusioned assassin looking for retribution against his former mentor, played by ninja film legend Sho Kosugi. Ninja Assassin explores political corruption, child endangerment and the impact of violence. Known for their previous work on the Matrix Trilogy and V for Vendetta, the Wachowskis, Joel Silver and Grant Hill produced the film. A joint collective effort to commit to the film's production was made by Legendary Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment and Silver Pictures. It was commercially distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Ninja Assassin premiered in theaters across the United States on November 25, 2009 earning $38,122,883 in ticket receipts at the North American box office. The film earned an additional $23,467,369 in business through international release to top out at a combined $61,590,252 in gross revenue. The film's budget was $40 million.
Raizo (Rain) is raised by the Ozunu Clan to become the most lethal ninja assassin in the world. As a child, Raizo (being an orphan) was taken in by Lord Ozunu (Sho Kosugi) and is enrolled in severe brutal training to become the next successor of their clan. The only generosity he ever receives was from a kunoichi named Kiriko (Kylie Goldstein), with whom he develops a romantic bond. As time goes on, Kiriko becomes disenchanted with the Ozunu's routine and wishes to abandon it for freedom. One rainy night, Kiriko decides to make her escape and encourages Raizo to join her; however he decides to stay. Branded as a traitor, Kiriko was caught and later executed in front of Raizo by her elder ninja brother Takeshi (Rick Yune). As a result of Kiriko's death, Raizo begins to harbor resentment and doubt towards the Ozunu; however, this is shown to be in the past.
The scene switches to the present where a disguised female assassin (Linh Dan Pham) attempts to kill Raizo at a laundromat. He successfully fends off all her attacks and succeeds in killing her, leaving her remains in the washing machine.The scene switches back to the past where Raizo is seated in a car and is instructed by Lord Ozunu to successfully complete his first assassination mission. Afterwards, Raizo meets the rest of his clan atop a city skyscraper in Berlin. There he is instructed by Lord Ozunu to execute another kunoichi traitor like Kiriko. He rebels against Lord Ozunu by cutting his face with a kyoketsu-shoge and engages in combat against his fellow ninja kin. Barely surviving, he falls off the roof of the skyscraper and into a river. Raizo recovers from his ordeal and begins to intervene and foil subsequent Ozunu assassination attempts.
Meanwhile, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has been investigating money-linked political murders and finds out that they are possibly connected to the Ozunu. She defies her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), and retrieves secret agency files to find out more about the investigation. Mika meets Raizo and convinces him to see Maslow for protection as well as to provide evidence against the Ozunu. However, Raizo is arrested by Maslow and abducted by agents from Europol for interrogation. Although feeling betrayed, Mika is assured by Maslow that he is still on her side and gives her a tracking device for emergencies. The Ozunu ninja infiltrate the Europol safehouse where Raizo is being held in an attempt to kill him and everybody inside. Mika frees Raizo and they both manage to escape, but Raizo suffers near-mortal wounds. Mika then takes him to a motel to hide. Resting in the motel, Mika implants the tracking device into Raizo, as the ninjas remain in pursuit. Unable to fend off the Ozunu, she hides outside the motel until Special Forces arrive to help her.
By the time they arrive, the ninjas have already kidnapped Raizo, bringing him before Lord Ozunu for prosecution. During transport back to the Ozunu, Raizo uses his ninja techniques to heal his own wounds. Europol special forces and tactical teams led by Maslow storm the secluded Ozunu retreat (nestled in the mountains) using the tracking device on Raizo. Turning the night into day by saturating the sky above with powerful flares, the military forces are able to fight the ninjas on their own terms. In the confusion, Mika frees Raizo from his bindings, where he proceeds to kill Takeshi and confront Lord Ozunu in a sword duel. Mika interferes to help, but is stabbed by Lord Ozunu. Enraged, Raizo uses a 'shadow blending' technique for the first time to distract and kill Lord Ozunu. Mika, seemingly fatally wounded, is in fact saved by a quirk of birth: her heart is actually on the opposite side of her chest. After Europol leaves, Raizo stays behind to tend to the ruins of the Ozunu retreat. He later climbs the same wall Kiriko did while trying to escape in the past, and looks out at the surrounding countryside. He then recognizes his freedom for the first time.
- Rain as Raizo
- Naomie Harris as Mika Coretti
- Ben Miles as Ryan Maslow
- Rick Yune as Takeshi
- Sho Kosugi as Ozunu
- Linh Dan Pham as Female Assassin
- Sung Kang as Hollywood
- Randall Duk Kim as Tattoo Master
- Stephen Marcus as Kingpin
- Lee Joon as Teenage Raizo
- Eleonore Weisgerber as Mrs. Sabatin
|One day I got a call from the Wachowski Brothers, who are friends of mine. And they said we need some help on something, can you meet us tomorrow and talk about something. I met with them and they had a draft for this movie called Ninja Assassin which wasn't where they wanted it to be. And they said we need a whole new draft, a whole new script, and we go to camera in six weeks. And I said, "Okay, when do you have to have the scripts?" And they said it had to go out to actors that Friday. So I went home and put on a pot of coffee, and I wrote essentially a whole new script in 53 hours.|
|—J. Michael Straczynski, writer|
Ninja Assassin was directed by James McTeigue, and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowskis. The project was inspired by the ninja scenes featured in the Wachowskis' 2008 film Speed Racer, in which the actor Rain had impressed the Wachowskis with his portrayal as a fighter. The Wachowskis were dissatisfied with the original script, and hired J. Michael Straczynski to write a new draft for the film six weeks before it began production.
McTeigue cited various influences in filming Ninja Assassin such as the films Panic in the Streets (1950), The Getaway (1972), Badlands (1973), Ninja Scroll (1993), and the anime Samurai Champloo (2004–2005). Actor Collin Chou was originally cast for an undisclosed lead role after Jet Li turned down an offer, but Chou later left the role.
The film was not well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 25% of 106 sampled critics gave the film positive reviews and that it got a rating average of 4.3 out of 10. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 34% based on 20 reviews. While critics generally panned the film as a melange of gore scenes without a convincing plot, some critics commended the film's numerous action scenes.
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle described the film as "a gorefest, a borefest and a snorefest." Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch opined that "this amateurish action flick is so lacking in personality or punch, it ought to be titled 'V for Video Store Discount Bin.'"
Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty wrote "...this slick slice of martial-arts mayhem from the producers of The Matrix is awash in blood. It spurts and sprays in geysers. And it never lets up. There's a brutal (and admittedly very cool) fight scene every five minutes... But let's be honest, killing is this film's business... and business is good."
Ninja Assassin opened at #6 at the North American box office earning $13,316,158 in its first opening weekend. The film grossed $38,122,883 in North America and $22,339,464 in other territories, totaling $60,462,347 worldwide. In Japan, this film opened on the March 6, 2010 in only one movie theater in Shinjuku and then also opened on the March 20 in Osaka. Ninja Assassin earned 2,214,000 yen (Approximately $25,672 U.S.) during its first opening weekend in Shinjuku.
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- Williams, Joe (November 27, 2009). "Punchless martial-arts film falls flat". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
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- Official website
- Ninja Assassin at the Internet Movie Database
- Ninja Assassin at AllMovie
- Ninja Assassin at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ninja Assassin at Metacritic
- Ninja Assassin at Box Office Mojo