A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ninja Assassin is a fast-paced action movie with tons of extreme martial arts violence and gallons of blood, though its cartoonish tone may be more likely to inspire laughter than shock among teens. The story is about a man who takes on many enemies in the name of the common good -- but he does so violently and is motivated by revenge, which sends some mixed messages. Still, the movie is somewhat smarter and better told than others in this genre, and there's a female supporting character who's much braver and stronger than women typically are in these movies. Don't expect Shakespeare quality, but older teens are likely to have a good time.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
For centuries, the so-called "nine clans" have taken orphaned children and trained them to be ninjas, with the power to hide in the shadows and follow their targets by scent alone. The ninjas are then sold to world governments to be used as assassins. Raizo (South Korean pop star Rain) escapes and decides to bring down the entire organization, especially his cruel, former sensei Lord Ozunu (Sho Kosugi). Meanwhile, Europol agent Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles) and researcher Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) stumble upon the conspiracy and find themselves in the middle of a war between Raizo and an army of angry, evil ninjas. Lots of blood and flying body parts follow.
Is it any good?
As directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) and produced by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix), NINJA ASSASSIN is of a generally higher quality than the typical "ninja" martial arts movie. It's slick and fast-paced with some gorgeous set pieces and choreography, as well as characters who more or less behave as if they know what they're doing. Rain gives a fairly one-note, brooding performance, but Miles and Harris help make up for it.
The movie is extremely and self-consciously violent and gory, although in a comic book/fantasy way that will probably inspire more laughter than cringing. Moreover, most of the bloody hackings and severings are accomplished via CGI, and none of it actually looks or feels too real. The larger plot arc has a few holes and leaves a bit to be desired, but individual moments can be ridiculously exhilarating.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their reaction to the movie's bloody, violent scenes. Were you shocked? Did you laugh? Why do you think you reacted this way?
What is Raizo's motivation? Is it personal revenge, or is it more for the common good? Were his tactics appropriate?
Do you think the character of Mika is strong and brave? Is she a good female role model, or is she more of a stereoytpe?
- In theaters: March 16, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 16, 2010
- Cast: Ben Miles, Naomie Harris, Rain
- Director: James McTeigue
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language
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