Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ninja Assassin Review: The Lost Scenes

I just saw the flick yesterday evening.  Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated since an onslaught of movie critics were trashing the film as being "a dull blade" due to some deficient acting by Rain and other cast members, and even worse direction from the production crew.  Not exactly sure what the critics were expecting from a film budgeted only $30 million to produce, a hastily rewritten screenplay in 56 hours, and someone whose native tongue isn't English, but...I have to concur that many action scenes were filmed too dark or too close for viewers to comfortably digest and comprehend.  Lastly, by adding some depth to the characters along with a bit more suspense and thrill to the plot, Ninja Assassin would have definitely been a much better film. 

Too Dark & Too Close
I was under the impression that McTeigue would have avoided the same mistakes that plagued Batman Begins when filming the action sequences. Viewers want these crystal clear. What is the point of having an awesome fight scene if nobody can tell what's going on because its too dark? This means the camera has to zoom in on the actors so the audience can see the details. The problem with this is the camera jerks back and forth to capture a chain of movements from each character. My eyes struggle to keep up and makes it confusing. Yes, ninjas fight in the dark but that doesn't mean you can't add more lighting to provide a better viewing experience.

I was also upset with the car chasing scene being shot so close. I love movie scenes where the protagonist has to dodge and maneuver around oncoming traffic from different angles. This is when I get a good thrill ride sitting at the edge of my seat, but shooting it too close defeats the purpose. I don't see any of the potential danger!

Plot Is Too Simple & Doesn't Flow
Spending a bit more time to develop the characters and add a few scenes would have helped tremendously. The mediocre reviews regarding the plot may have turned out better as well.  For those of you who haven't seen the movie already, go watch it RIGHT NOW and then come back to read "Ninja Assassin: The Lost Scenes", or else my rendition of what should have been included won't make much sense to you.  

  1. In the beginning when Raizo is in the laundry mat, the movie should have shown the entire fight sequence with the other ninja. There's a saying you shouldn't start a fight if you can't finish it. We never see any hand-to-hand combat which would have been nice since there was hardly any throughout the film.
  2. Raizo leaves his apartment after he finishes exercising in his room and walks into the back of a restaurant. From there we learn he is working as part of the kitchen staff cutting meat or slicing and dicing vegetables. This ties in well with his ninja sword skills.
  3. After Mika reviews the video recording which captured Raizo's face, she calls Ryan requests a dinner meeting at a restaurant. Ryan says, "I know just the place" and they both meet at the restaurant which Raizo is working at.
  4. While having dinner Mika is quietly explaining to Ryan what she's discovered and shows him documents containing screen captures of Raizo. Meanwhile Raizo steps into the dining area to go use the restroom and overhears Mika mentioning the words "ninjas" as well as the captured video. Raizo sees something in Mika that reminds him of the girl he had feelings for, immediately puts his head down and returns to the kitchen.
  5. The movie could've expanded on this scene by having Raizo's brother leading a group of ninjas to kill the lights and clean out the restaurant. Mika and Ryan barely flee the place while Raizo is fighting off the ninjas with a butcher knifes and meat cleavers. Then the following scene where Raizo stops a ninja from killing Mika in her own apartment would have made the plot more fluid. It didn't make sense to me when Raizo suddenly decides to rescue this Europol agent in her own apartment for no reason.  How did he know of her to begin with?  Why did he do it?  At least point 4 fills in that gap.
So there you have it. That's pretty much the gist of what I would've modified and added to enhance the movie overall. If you've seen the movie, I'm curious as to what you think would've improved it and just for giggles, what you think of my recommendations.


  1. A lot of the movie's feel is reminiscent of Beat Takeshi's Zatoichi (2003), except darker (lighting-wise, that is).

    As for Rain's acting, he's won awards for his acting in Korean dramas before. I think the script and character did not allow Rain to showcase his full range of acting abilities. This is most likely due to a poorly written script and poor direction.

    The director and/or screenwriter could definitely have used Raizo's relationship with the ninja girl he grew up with. They could have then used this to foster emotional growth in Raizo's character development.

  2. Those are all excellent points.

    The script was poorly written due to the writer slicing and dicing (no pun intended) the original one in less than 2 days.

    In reference to your point about fostering emotional growht, the movie scrapes the surface of Raizo's character presenting us with flashbacks of his relationship with the girl as you mention, but it fails to showcase any depth because we don't see how it affects him in the present day. Then after a near death experience and falling into the water, we're suddenly brought back to the present without much of an explanation. This is one of the gaps that left me disconnected.

    They could have alluded to this in the beginning where Raizo fights the woman in the laundry mat or when meeting "Mika Mika".


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