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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Talkies reviews

Couple of rveiews of mine from Day and Night in today's Independent

A Prophet

Ninja Assassin (18, general release)

Two stars

Some movie titles are a puzzler, and can really only be understood by viewing the film: think The Silence of the Lambs, or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Then there are movies like Ninja Assassin, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and much less besides.

Directed by James McTeigue, the man who brought V for Vendetta to the big screen with such mixed results, slips down another grade to helm this glorified video game that should leave trigger-happy teenage boys bouncing with excitement but cause the remainder of the audience either to look away in disgust or roll their eyes in derision.

The insanely lithe, eight-pack-sporting Asian pop star Rain – and the movie should earn an extra star just for his name alone – plays Raizo, an orphan who is taken in by the Ozunu clan of ninjas to undergo grueling training to become a ruthless killer that can be hired by various governments to carry out assassinations. Ninja assassinations, if you will.

However, Raizo goes rogue, and vows vengeance on the clan that killed his one true love. He proceeds to assist a Europol agent (Naomie Harris) in her bid to catch the clan and its sinister leader Lord Ozunu (Sho Koshugi), and as the nunchaku, shuriken and swords start whizzing through the air, so too does any narrative logic.

That said, anyone going to this movie will only be there for the blood and guts, and by gum does it deliver on that front. A bravura opening sequence revels in early-Sam Raimi levels of gore as one character’s face – yes, their actual face – is sliced off. Minutes later, a decapitated head is seen swishing around in a tumble dryer.

That giddy carnage soon collapses into dimly-lit fight sequences, filmed with endlessly swerving cameras, making the movie increasingly difficult and tiresome to watch. I have no objection to gore; just as long as we can see it. At that point the only mirth left for the viewer comes from the transcendentally awful dialogue. Give me the Ninja Turtles any day.

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