Ninja Assassin (R)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
So... there's this clan of ninjas, the Ozunu, who are apparently one of nine clans, though I think they're the only ones we ever see, in the movie. And these clans have been around for like a thousand years, offering their services as assassins for hire. The movie is mostly set in Berlin, where there's a Europol agent, a forensic researcher named Mika Coretti. She's been digging up evidence that suggests various assassinations have been done by ninjas, a theory which she shares with her superior, Ryan Maslow. Apparently, some former KGB agent had had a similar theory a couple of years ago, which led to his losing his job, and then being killed... by ninjas. So of course, Maslow isn't real keen on pursuing Mika's own research... because ninjas aren't supposed to exist in the modern era, and anyone who says they do will become a laughing stock, and ruin their career. But he does some looking into it, anyway, because... he likes Mika. And um... he starts getting scared by what he finds, and the way other people start reacting, I guess. Because... the ninja clans are apparently kept secret by powerful people in various government agencies around the world. So he doesn't have to so much worry about people disbelieving him, as worry about people realizing he's too close to the truth. And finally, he warns Mika to pack her things and leave town, because it's getting too dangerous.
But when she gets back to her place, there are already two ninjas there. One is waiting to kill her, and the other one saves her life. His name is Raizo, and throughout the movie we see flashbacks to his training, since he was a young boy taken in by the Ozunu. It's pretty brutal, emphasizing the need to basically ignore pain, and to put your clan before yourself, and not care about anything except your mission. Throughout these flashbacks also, we see Raizo developing feelings for a kunoichi in his clan named Kiriko. (And btw, I'm not sure if anyone in the clan is actually related to one another; it seems as if they're all orphans who have been taken in, and taught to see each other as family.) Eventually, Kiriko decided to run away, but she was caught, brought back, and killed for betraying the clan. (It's the kind of deal where you have no choice: you have to remain part of the clan for your whole life. You don't have to actually do anything that a sane person would consider "betrayal.") So... you can tell when she is killed by one of Raizo's "brothers," he really begins to hate the clan. It's some time, however, before he actually leaves, himself. And of course, his clan will pursue him, and he'll want to eventually try to kill his "father" (who is called Ozunu, because basically he is the clan, and the clan are... him).
Well, anyway, in the present, Mika tries to get help for Raizo, from Maslow... but by then, he's in a position where there's nothing he can do except pretend to go along with the orders he's received from above. So Raizo ends up getting captured by Europol soldiers. Which of course means, the Ozunu clan will infiltrate the place they're holding Raizo, and... a lot of people die. (Though there is a bit of humor in the movie; one joke in which a soldier says Raizo looks like he should be in a boy band is particularly funny when you consider the guy playing Raizo is Korean pop star Rain.) Anyway, not a lot of people make it out alive after the ninjas show up, but of course Raizo and Mika both get away. And somehow, Maslow also survives. Still, the Ozunu eventually capture Raizo and bring him back to their place in Japan, to be killed. But... his death is forestalled in the most awesome way possible. Which I don't want to spoil, but it was the kind of thing I wanted to see throughout most of the movie. So... I very much enjoyed the ensuing action.
Well... obviously there are a great many fight scenes throughout the movie. Lots of guns on Europol's part, and lots of ninja weapons, including various swords, shuriken, and of course Raizo's main weapon, a kyoketsu-shoge. The story itself is fairly simple... just okay. You know, not great, but better than "meh." But anyone who tells you the fights aren't the most bad-ass thing they've ever seen are probably thinking of the wrong movie. I should warn you that it is incredibly gory, with blood spurting everywhere, and body parts frequently being sliced clean off, so if you're not into that kind of thing... don't watch this movie. I should also mention that some aspects of the movie are utterly impossible... like healing your own wounds, or moving at superhuman speed, though most of the action is merely really improbable. And awesome. And that's about all I can think to say.