Ninja Assassin (Blu-ray Review)

Ninja Assassin (Blu-ray Review)Are you in the market for a no holds barred, martial arts-infused, action movie?  Well, if you purchase Warner Brothers’ Ninja Assassin, then that’s exactly what you are going to get.  Make no mistake that the action sequences are zany and over-the-top, but that’s the appeal of Ninja Assassin.  Even our own reviewer, Gregg Senko (see his review here), loved this film.  That says a lot coming from a man who could not stand the non-stop crazy mayhem of one of my favorites, Crank.  It can be easily be said that Ninja Assassin isn’t for everyone, but instead of spinning wheels debating one view or the other, let’s take a few moments to examine the film and its kung fu grip on US filmgoers.    

The Film 

Ninja Assassin was released theatrically in the United States on November 25, 2009.  It was met with only minor success taking in about 60 million worldwide.  The film was panned by the critics, but what do they know (I smile).  The movie was produced by Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry).   The feature takes place in Berlin, Germany, and appropriately that’s where this bad boy was filmed.  You got to love authenticity (I smile again).  Ninja Assassin stars a South Korean pop singer known as Rain (Jeong-Ji-hoon).  Other notable stars include Tokyo Drift’s Sung Kang and the striking Naomie Harris.  Naomie looked very familiar to me so I had to look her up.  Sure enough, I knew her from other films.  She is most notable for her role in the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean.  However, I also recognized her from the zombie thriller 28 Days Later.

Act 1 is successful in both engaging the audience’s attention and also in setting the feature film up.  After a very short introduction to some gang members we will never see again, the a$$-kicking ninja action revs up in high gear very quickly.  However, I have to admit something before we move on.  I’m not giving away any spoilers by admitting this, but I must say that the very first kill of the film is also my absolute favorite one of the feature’s 99-minute runtime.  Throughout the first act, the film introduces us to our main character Raizo (Rain), his early love interest Kiriko and Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris).

Act 2 further flushes out Raizo’s character, why he is wanted by his former clan and the developing relationship between Raizo and Mika (you had to know that was coming).  The audience learns more about Raizo’s history and exactly what makes him a wanted man by not only his former clan, but also from the law.  Of course there is your usual B-love storyline, although not explicit, chronicling what precisely makes Raizo tick and why he cares about the survival of Mika.  Could it be that he is using her to serve his own purpose or he has his own endgame in mind?  Not Raiko.  Really?  Well, I can’t tell you anyway.  That would be a spoiler.  But I can tell you this.  The off-the-wall action ensues throughout the entire second act and sometimes it relentlessly won’t let you go.  Admittedly so, there were a few times when I was like c’mon…really?  But all in all, it’s Hollywood and my suspension of disbelief was never really interrupted, except for all the punishment that Raizo is forced to live through.  However, it’s nothing that Bruce Willis hasn’t lived through in the Die Hard films.

Act 3 finds our stars with a plan.  Lessons learned from his earlier life, help Raizo make the right decisions.  Right decisions include those that are directly related to his own survival, saving the lives of others and overcoming various childhood demons.  Anyone that has ever written a film script and has studied the art of writing one knows the necessary situation that has to unfold within the third and final act.  Hopefully you guessed right.  If you guessed a big showdown and a lot of deaths, then you are right.  If you thought Barney the purple dinosaur was going to save the day, then what the hell are you reading this for?  That’s right ladies and gentlemen.  The film climaxes with a final showdown between Raiko and his old mentor.  Surprisingly, the old guy moves a lot quicker than he looks.  It kind of makes me regress and wish old man Ben Kenobi may had been more nimble in his old age.  Oh well, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. 

So now that I briefly summarized the movie act-by-act I am sure the burning question on all your minds is whether or not it is any good.  That’s really going to depend on you and how much you like unbelievable action sequences, CGI blood splatter effects and are able to put up with the occasional bad dialogue performances.  If you are a fan of martial arts and action films, then I think the junkie in you will be fully satisfied.  I really dug the blood splatter effects I mention beforehand.  It reminds me a lot of my current favorite television show, Spartacus (minus the gratuitous nudity).  It may not be ultra-realistic, but the over-the-top action sequences sucked me in from beginning to end.  The story is mildly entertaining, a very far cry from an Oscar nod, but it’s the engagement factor that wins here.  Who doesn’t like a story of revenge?  It’s the Tim Burton Batman dilemma going on here.  Raizo’s former clan leader made him the person he is today and vice versa.  It’s a tale of good vs. evil and the events that unfold as a result.  In other words, the film does have a plot.  It’s not a tight one, but it’s good enough to keep you enthralled for 99 minutes.

Ninja Assassin 


This one was admittedly a hard one to score.  I had to give the Blu-ray a repeat viewing to make up my mind about how I wanted to handle this section in particular.  Don’t fret; I love this film so it was not that big of a chore to accomplish.  Anyway, like I was saying, I struggled with a rating here.   I ultimately decided upon a 4.5, changing my previous scoring of 4.  For the most part, the Blu-ray’s 1080p VC-1 encode is breathtaking.  Most of the scenes are epic in nature.  The landscapes are beautiful.  The 2.4:1 framed fight scenes were crystal clear.  The print makes me wish Crystal Pepsi was still around because if it was, then I would be pounding one right now.  Everything was immaculate both print-wise and color-wise.  The contrast between the inky blacks and the red blood effects are reminiscent of the stellar body of art known as Sin City.  In most cases, the detail was impeccable from the individual beads of sweat to the open sores lashed into Rain’s body every hit he withstood.  It’s one of the first times where I can say the video put me in the center of the action.  The clarity and detail oriented presentation gave the Blu-ray a three-dimensional pop like every disc should have.  Kudos Warner! 

However, as I like to say, with the good most always comes the bad.  Thankfully, the bad here is very minor.  I only had issues with certain scenes.  There were some scenes that fluctuated in quality, most notably, interior scenes like when Rain was practicing in his apartment.  The scenes I am referring to suffer from above usual levels of grain that tend to disturb the high levels of clarity.  Fortunately, these particular scenes are very rare within the presentation, but nonetheless, you now understand why I could not give this one a perfect score. 

 Ninja Assassin


The audio, on the other hand, was much easier to score.  I only have one beef to bring up, which I will mention momentarily.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track will have you ducking in your seat trying to avoid all the shurikens, or throwing stars to the lay person, flying around the room.  This is a wild over-the-top martial arts action movie so it only makes perfect sense that the soundtrack matches every little nuance on the screen.  Right?  Exactly!  Don’t even second guess yourself here.  Every onscreen visual, battle and sequence is brilliantly captured and brought to life via this 5.1 track.  Gunfire, explosions, punches, kicks, weapons and more are faithfully recreated to elicit a harmonious and engaging Blu-ray experience.  The subwoofer action was booming insanely at times.  It almost was thunderous enough to make me grab my remote, had it not been for the pesky dialogue levels, hence my only complaint.  In my opinion, I would have loved to see the dialogue levels just a tad higher.  I had to turn this audio track up ever so slightly, above my normal listening volume, to hear everything that was being said.  However, if that’s my only complaint, then this track is near perfect.  So enjoy!

Ninja Assassin 

Special Features 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m appreciative that Warner Brothers includes a DVD version of the film as well as a Digital Copy, but it does nothing for me.  I will never watch the DVD.  After all, I have Blu-ray for a reason.  I’m not sure if I will ever watch a Digital Copy, but I will keep it handy just in case I ever get a Mac one day.  Other than that, there’s really not much to brag about here.  The special features section is completely void of your typical audio commentary.  All we have to keep us busy here is five little documentaries.  But hey…at least they are all in High Definition!  What do you say we take a closer look at them, before delivering a final verdict on the value of this Blu-ray disc?

  • The Myth and Legends of Ninjas – This 19-minute clip examines the myths, lore, training and combat of a ninja.
  • The Extreme Sport of a Ninja – This 10-minute documentary exposes the people responsible for bringing us the crazy stunts and action sequences found within this zany martial arts film.
  • Training Rain – This 10-minute supplement is my favorite of the bunch.  I’m sure you can put two-and-two together and figure out this about the training of Rain.  But more importantly, it is the transformation of a pop star into the next onscreen Bruce Lee (or at least as it concerns this film).  The dude trained 6 hours a day for 6 months to get as ripped as he was for the film.  Some guys have all the luck.
  • Additional Footage – I am never of fan of these, but here we have 4 deleted scenes from the movie with a total runtime of give or take 8 minutes.
  • Exclusive Sneak Peek – Here we go again.  The same exclusive 5-minute Clash of the Titans trailer that is found elsewhere can be found here as well. 

 Ninja Assassin

Final Thoughts 

So here’s your decision you ultimately have to make.  Are you OK escaping everyday life and enjoying some off-the-wall unbelievable martial arts action or would you rather be bored to tears sitting in a dark room watching The English Patient?  I know my answer to that question, but what’s yours?  Ninja Assassin is not going to not reinvent the world of martial arts like The Karate Kid once did, but there’s no doubt in my mind that this Blu-ray package offers a walloping bang for your buck in the entertainment value category.  Not only do you get the DVD and Digital Copy version of the film, but you also get a Blu-ray disc loaded with sweat in your face near reference quality video, a sonic boom audio soundtrack and a handful of special features that recaps all the hard work that went into making this movie, then you are in the right place.  Follow the link below to bring home Ninja Assassin on Blu-ray March 16th.


Pre-order Ninja Assassin on Blu-ray today!



Ninja Assassin is available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and for Download on 3/16! 

Ninja Assassin Blu-ray Cover Art




Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Ninja Assassin (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I hear this flick is fun as hell. I’ll be blind buying it soon.

  2. Gregg

    Crystal Pepsi?? Was that the clear stuff? God how I miss that! I’m breathing a sigh of relief after reading this review. I’m very glad the video quality turned out to be pretty good. I saw this film on Thanksgiving Day and enjoyed it a lot. I am surprised at your low Special Features score though. Over 40 minutes of high def footage only warranted a ‘2’? I do agree about the dvd though. Why is WB packaging with Blu-rays? It is such a bass-akward marketing move that I am always scratching my head over. Why not do one better? Scrap the dvd and include a video tape of the film with the Blu-ray. At least this way you get an antique.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    This was a pretty wild ride! It was great to see Sho Kosugi back in action after so many years.

    Lots of great kills everywhere!

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go eat a steak…raw!