Friday, 9 April 2010

Ninja-bred Men

Ninja Assassin 2010 US
Directed by James McTeigue

It seems like I’m having a pretty violent time with my movies this week. Back in the late 70s/early 80s there was a certain number of “made for Americans, made by Americans and starring Americans” pseudo Ninja movies. I understand that these movies have a small following for people of a certain generation but I was never tempted to give up any time to watch any of them. James McTeigue’s new Ninja Assassin movie was produced by Joel Silver and I imagine it is not a far cry from those American ninja movies from a few decades ago. Think Cobra meets The One Armed Swordsman.

This film is a curious mix because, although it features all of those factors of a fun 80s actioner... rubbish plot, terrible script and bad acting... it mixes this with a level of gore and violence which is straight out of the province of a modern Takashi Miike movie. This film definitely classifies as ultraviolence... in fact, one sequence where somebody’s leg comes flying at the camera made me wonder why this one wasn’t the latest to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

What saves this film is the picture perfect framing of the visuals and the speed of the editing matched to the fight coreography in such a way that, unlike certain other modern action movies (I might mention The Bourne Supremacy or Quantum of Solace) the audience is not left totally confused as to what is going on during its more “enthusiastic” sequences. Shot follows shot smoothly and with... you know... “emotional context” ;-)

Perhaps the real reason this movie succeeds is because it never tries to be anything much more than the cheesy USA action flicks it tries to imitate. It’s just got better cinematography.

This post is dedicated to Russell Barley.

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