Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James McTeigue|
|Produced by||Joel Silver
J. Michael Straczynski
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Editing by||Gian Ganziano
Joseph Jett Sally
Dark Castle Entertainment
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Release date(s)||November 25, 2009|
|Running time||99 minutes|
|Gross revenue||$60,462,347 (worldwide)|
Ninja Assassin is a 2009 American action/martial arts film directed by James McTeigue and starring Rain. The film was produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, and filming took place in Berlin, Germany.
Raizo (Rain) is raised by the Ozunu Clan to become one of the most lethal Special Ops ninja assassins in the world. As a child, Raizo experiences severe training under the guidance of his "father", Lord Ozunu (Sho Kosugi): he is whipped and/or cut whenever he fails and is encouraged to hurt his ninja kin for their training failures. The only kindness he ever receives is from a kunoichi (female ninja), Kiriko (Anna Sawai).
As they grow older, Kiriko and Raizo develop a romantic bond, however Kiriko's desire to leave the Ozunu Clan for freedom is greater.
One stormy night, Kiriko decides to escape from the clan. She encourages Raizo to join her, but he decides to stay. They kiss and she then climbs over the wall to freedom; only to be caught and brought back by her ninja kin. Branded as a traitor, Kiriko is executed (a katana through her heart) by her elder ninja brother Takeshi (Rick Yune). As a result of Kiriko's death, Raizo begins to harbor resentment and doubt towards the clan.
After completing his first assassination, Raizo is instructed by Lord Ozunu to execute an escaped kunoichi like Kiriko. He rebels against his master by slashing his face with a kyoketsu shoge and fights against his ninja kin. Barely surviving, he escapes by falling into a nearby river. Raizo recovers and begins to intervene in Ozunu hits by foiling their attempts.
While staying in Berlin and waiting for Ozunu's next move, Raizo rents a small apartment where he secretly continues to refine his training until it is time to act.
Meanwhile, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has been investigating money linked to political murders and finds that it is potentially linked to the Ozunu Clan. She defies her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), and retrieves secret agency files to find out more. The clan, finding out about the investigation, attempts to assassinate her but she is rescued by Raizo.
Mika convinces Raizo to meet with Maslow for protection and to provide evidence against the ninja clan, but Raizo is intercepted by a task force for interrogation. Mika feels betrayed that Maslow would trick her that way, but Maslow secretly assures Mika that he is still on her side and gives her a tracking device for emergencies. While Mika warns Maslow of the dangers of keeping Raizo, the Ozunu ninja infiltrate their secret base and slaughter all the officers.
Mika frees Raizo and he lures the ninja away as Mika tries to escape. Raizo kills and fends off as many ninja as he can while Takeshi continues to trail him. He and Mika manage to escape but Raizo suffers mortal wounds around his stomach. Resting in a private area, Mika implants the tracking device into Raizo. Unable to fend against the clan, she hides outside the hotel until special forces arrive to help her. By that time, the ninja have recovered Raizo and taken him back to their base, bringing him before Lord Ozunu for prosecution.
While hidden inside a steel locker Raizo uses his healing techniques to heal all major injuries before being reunited with his "father." Lord Ozunu decides to have Raizo executed as an example but is infuriated by Raizo's defiance to the end; Ozunu strikes against Raizo's internal organs, causing him to spit out the tracking device.
Europol Special Forces Counter-Terrorism tactical teams lead by Maslow storm the hidden Ozunu base and kill most of the ninja in the court yard. Takeshi and Raizo face each other in the burning Ozunu training hall. Raizo slays Takeshi and confronts Lord Ozunu in a sword duel. While Ozuno initially has the upper hand, Mika, fearing for Raizo's life, distracts and shoots Ozunu with her pistol.
Before Raizo can recover, Lord Ozunu stabs Mika in the heart. Emotionally ravaged, Raizo uses the 'shadow blending' technique for the first time and finishes off Ozunu. Mika, seemingly fatally wounded, is in fact saved by a quirk of birth: her heart is on the opposite side of her chest. Mika and Europol leave the destroyed Ozunu compound while Raizo stays behind. Symbolically, he climbs the same wall Kiriko did all those years ago and looks out at the surrounding countryside. Recognizing his freedom for the first time in years, Raizo smiles, ending the film.
Ninja Assassin was directed by James McTeigue, and produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers. 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.
|“||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.
Well, when a friend calls you and says they're in trouble, you do what you have to. And if you add in the seven hours sleep I got in three days, it was 60 hours, but the actual writing was 53 hours.
So I turned it in and Warner Brothers loved it, that's the first time they had no notes. I was like, I should do this more often!
Filming began in Berlin, Germany at the end of April 2008. Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg provided filmmakers US$1 million in funding, and Germany's Federal Film Fund provided an additional US$9 million to the film's funding. Filming took place in Babelsberg Studios and on location throughout Berlin.
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).
The film generally received negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 29% of 104 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."
The film 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 6th of March 2010 in Shinjuku, and will open on the 20th of March in Osaka.