Thursday, September 26, 2013

Film Review: Ninja (2009)

Ninja (Review)
United States/2009
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes 

"...the concept is distorted by the many side plots and inconsistent storytelling."

After he's vanished from a dojo, Masazuka (Tauyoshi Ihara) vows to take vengeance and retrieve an old chest called the Yoroi Bitsu, which contains the suit and weaponry of an ancient ninja. Casey (Scott Adkins), an American adopted into the Japanese dojo, is assigned to protect the chest as it is sent to New York...

Ninja is a martial arts thriller. The story is interesting -- I like the concept of modern ninjas in New York. However, the story has so much to tell in so little time. Over the course, we're placed into a rivalry between Casey and Masazuka; we're introduced to Casey's love interest and their relationship; we see an secret organization and their corrupt actions; there are detective trying to find out what's going on; and so on. Since every event feels disjointed, Ninja feels follow and forgettable, as well as inconsistent. The ending is good, but easily predictable.

The action sequences are good. Fans of Scott Adkins will still enjoy his ferocious speed, his powerful punches, and vicious kicks. Some of the action sequences are by-the-books, been-there-done-that, which makes them forgettable but enjoyable. There are only two or three sequenced I really, really enjoyed, including an epic battle in a subway, and a one vs many scene towards the end, as well as a ninja vs ninja fight. The fight scenes take center stage in this film, and the story feels like it's rushed and simple there as filler; there is no story or character development, or emotional depth; it's a fight scene followed by a generic bridge to connect to another fight scene.

The acting is okay from the cast. Without much character, there isn't much to work with. Scott Adkins does well as the lead; he hits everything competently when it comes to acting, and he is a beast when it comes to the physical scenes. The music felt ill fitted, and generic. The special effects remind of the 2003 samurai classic Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman; unfortunately, that's disappointing considering the use, the time and the budget differences. There also seems to be a lack of direction to blame for the inconsistent storytelling and screen direction.

Overall, Ninja offers some great fight sequences and an interesting concept. But you've likely seen many of these fights before, and the concept is distorted by the many side plots and inconsistent storytelling. I recommend streaming or renting before purchasing.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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