Ninja Assassin [Blu-Ray] James McTeigue

Ninja Assassin [Blu-Ray] James McTeigue
When pressed to name the films that influenced Ninja Assassin in an interview hyping the film's theatrical release late last fall, director James McTeigue blasphemed Terrance Mallick's Badlands, Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets and Sam Peckinpah's The Getaway, citing them all as films that in one way or another helped shape his schlocky splatter film. McTeigue's no Mallick, to be sure. But that's not to say Ninja Assassin isn't entertaining as hell. Though the plot is wafer-thin ― in short: a Europol agent (Naomie Harris) investigating political assassinations finds links to centuries-old ninja clans and must solicit the help of orphaned ninja Raizo (Korean popstar Rain) in order to dismantle the deadly Ozunu clan ― Ninja Assassin offers enough in the way of back flips, dismemberments and Oriental-ised pop philosophy to sustain its 100-minute running time. In a 20-minute featurette included in this disc, a handful of middle-aged men dedicated to the martial art and history of the ninja explain how the stealth assassins were employed in feudal Japan as information gatherers: stalking the shadows to infiltrate enemy bases and skedaddle out of there. One wonders how these ninja masters, who have devoted their lives to the study of an arcane lifestyle, regard Ninja Assassin's hyper-bloody treatment of child abduction, collusion, and willy-nilly half-decapitations. Despite its historical imprecision, Ninja Assassin does wonders in spectacle, high-wiring would-be martial artists and parkour runners for some pretty splashy special effects. Still, compared to the bare-bones approach of something like Ong Bak, Ninja Assassin leans a bit too heavily on SFX flair, playing out as more of a live-action anime than an old-school martial arts flick. And a little bit (or a lot) of arterial spray does not Badlands make. Also on the disc: features documenting the training of star Rain and the supporting martial artists. (Warner)