CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS AND BLOOD
I know it's not even the end of January but I think we already have a strong contender for Dumbest Movie Of 2010. Never mind the cinematic art, never mind dramatising the eternal differences between East and West. Let's not bother with anything above the most simplistic of film-making techniques, and instead we'll just fill the screen with blood and gore and severed limbs for pretty much the whole of the running time.
Ninja Assassin kicks off in an Osaka tattoo parlour, wherein a gathering of gangland ne'er-do-wells are spectacularly hacked into small pieces by an unseen but supernaturally vicious force, after which the action switches to Berlin where a couple of cardboard Europol agents team up to uncover a lucrative ninja assassination scheme carried out by an army of ninja warriors trained from infancy to be unstoppable, invulnerable slaughter machines. One of the ninjas, Korean pop star Rain, has abandoned the ninja brotherhood, and their ninja master wants him dead. That's pretty much it for plot.
The acting and writing is beyond dismal and to be honest the only thing the movie really has going for it is scene after scene of senseless bloodshed, in which legions of black-clad warriors dismember anyone in their path: to hold Rain accountable for his dishonour. He, meanwhile, is having none of that and will kill without mercy to stay free; his weapon of choice is a curved blade on a long chain. Disappointingly, the blood spurts are mainly, if not entirely, done with CGI rather than the good old-fashioned squibs and pumps. But there's so much of it, so much one-note carnage that it does become funny and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it.
The last Rambo movie, it should be noted, was similarly computerised and one-note, and had a comparable body count in the mid-hundreds, but that was boring and empty and suffered from the makers thinking there was some kind of moral or message in among the corpses. Ninja Assassin knows there's nothing going on except the cartoonish ultraviolence; it's not operating on any other levels but the surface and it knows it. It's dumb, bloodsoaked and rather enjoyable, and it's difficult not to actually like it a little bit.