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Ninja Assassin


Stars: Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Sho Kosugi, Rick Yune, Stephen Marcus, Anna Sawai, Joon Lee

Director: James McTeigue

Kung Fu Panda without the laughs. A clan of ninja assassins is trained to, well, assassinate. The most promising, Raizo, played by Korean pop star Rain) rebels after seeing his ninja sweetheart killed, and, refusing to kill a girl himself, barely escapes from the clan with his life, resolving to bring them down.

Presumably, the clan's mountain HQ, where their cruel school is run by Lord Ozunu (Kosugi), is located in Germany, since that's where the soulless, non-stop, blood-spurting action ends up; meanwhile, in downtown Berlin, researcher Mika (Harris) and her boss (Miles, the squire from the first series of Lark Rise to Candleford) cotton on to the connection between the ninjas and a series of high-profile assassinations.

Much limb- and head-chopping follows, drenching the screen in blood and allowing little time for quieter moments.

What dialogue there is follows a familiar pattern. 'Wherever you go,' Raizo is solemnly told, 'you must never forget who you are'. And number two villain (Yune), confronting Raizo at the end, purrs: 'Come, little brother. Let us play like old times.' Sigh!

One slip: Raizo tells Mika that he knows she only lied to him once, about her dress size. But she tells him she doesn't smoke, and is later seen puffing away. But hey, this is no film for purists. It is what it is, and fans of the genre will find the violence up there with the most extreme.

David Quinlan

USA/Germany 2009. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Jan 2010