December 17th, 2009

magma

Ninja Assassin

It's looking more and more like the Wachowski Bros. got lucky once.

Just saw Ninja Assassin last night. It's worth it just for what must be the lamest ending theme ever. "Listen to the voice of Buddha", guys? Really?

Anyway, movie: dumb as hell but pretty fun. Almost as ridiculous as Kung Fu Zombie, though not nearly as insane. Certainly gorier, though the gore is so over-the-top that it becomes cartoonish, like Dead Alive. People in this movie spray gallons everywhere: cutting off a finger launches more blood than is actually present in a human body. And they love (read: overuse) the effect of blood splattering against the screen, though it has an orange-ish hue that makes it seem more like the result of getting a spastic kindergartener hopped up on Pixy Stix and letting him loose with a bucket of red tempura paint.

The ninja in this movie fail at stealth. They can do all of this cool disappearing-into-shadows stuff, but whenever a bunch of them were sneaking up on somebody in a group, they whisper a lot really loudly. Guys, people can hear you when you do that. And pretty much all stealth and secrecy goes out the window by the time ninjas are running all over the road and getting hit by cars.

The Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu in in full effect in this movie, though it's relative to the number of opponents. One ninja is a murder machine, and a group can take on an army, but that same group vs. one guy will have a hell of a time of it, and a zillion ninja at their home base drop like flies. You can even see it in effect in individual fights: in one fight Raizo takes on about six other ninja and totally slaughters them with nary a scratch until he's down to one, who's suddenly able to go toe to toe with him.

The movie bogged down whenever it paused the action for some plot or flashbacks (tons of flashbacks in this movie). The plot is pretty thin, and full of holes. It's not so much a case of Fridge Logic as reaching-for-the-Junior-Mints logic. How has a group that'll run out into busy traffic to catch a guy and pelt a car with shuriken* able to stay secret for thousands of years? How can a guy whose first attempt to assassinate some fat guy went horribly wrong and ended up with a brutal brawl (highly reminiscent of the opening of Casino Royale BTW) suddenly turn into Lord King Badass a few minutes later? How can an army with a bunch of APCs and Humvees sneak up on a mountain fortress that is clearly shown as being accessible only by a narrow path with cliffs on all sides? How can you not laugh when a character says in all seriousness to somebody trying to kill him, "Whatever they're paying you, I'll double it!"

The female lead is mostly ineffectual and not very interesting. It's really Raizo's movie, so during the early scenes that focus on her I found myself waiting for the movie to get going again. Her boss was kind of likeable at least.

On the other hand, Sho Motherfucking Kosugi, bitches! His lines were mostly hokey but he still came off as threatening. Also, he has Akuma's teleport dash from Street Fighter.

Quick trailer reviews: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus looks like it has a bunch of nifty visuals, and also Tom Waits as the Devil. Cool eye candy at the very least. Sherlock Holmes looks like it may rival Disney's Hunchback of Nortre Dame in terms of Hollywood completely missing the point. It does have a few amusing bits, though; it just has jack-all to do with Arthur Conan Doyle.

Incidentally, the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley (at least, the theater I was in) are now equipped with love seats instead of the usual theater seating, and bean bag chairs in the front. WTF? Not complaining, but, it's just weird. They had built-in cup holders and everything, so it's clearly not like how the Parkway has a bunch of old furniture: this stuff was made for theaters. Is this the new trend?

*BTW, is it just me or is shuriken a really terrible weapon for a group trying to keep people from finding out that they exist? It's highly distinctive, and you use it by throwing it away.
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