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Film / Ninja Assassin

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An Exactly What It Says on the Tin 2009 action film starring Stephen Colbert's Arch-Enemy, Jeong "Rain" Ji-hoon as Raizo, a Ninja who goes rogue and declares one-man war on his clan. It was produced by The Wachowskis (Bound (1996), The Matrix, Speed Racer) and directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) from a script by J. Michael Straczynski.

As a small child, Raizo is taken in by Ozunu Clan. The head of the clan, Lord Ozuno, takes in orphan children and makes them go through brutal training in order to become lethal assassins. Many years later, Raizo has left his clan and is now being hunted down for his betrayal. He enlists the help of Europol researcher Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris), who has been investigating political assassinations caused by ninja, to put an end to the Ozunu clan once and for all.

This film provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Raizo gains a Traumatic Superpower Awakening after Mika is stabbed by Lord Ozunu, and he gains the same type of Flash Step Lord Ozunu used prior.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: All of them, but especially the kyoketsu-shoge, cutting clean through arms and legs like butter.
  • Acrofatic/Kevlard: The fat guy that Raizo attempts to assassinate puts up quite a fight.
  • Action Survivor: Mika. She works for Europol, but as a research librarian; and even if she was a trained field agent, that might not serve her very well against ninjas.
    Raizo: "A gun won't help you."
    Mika, freaking out: "Well, I don't have a lot of options, okay? I mean, I once took a taebo class, but that is the extent of my kung fu abilities, alright?"
  • Actor Allusion: One scene has Raizo replicate the "Let's go!" head-cock gesture he once did as Taejo.
  • Armor Is Useless: The commandos from Europol learn the hard way that modern body-armor is not rated against katanas or shuriken.
  • Always Save the Girl: Subverted. Raizo tries, but he's nearly killed by the clan.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The title of the film. Does it refer to a ninja who is an assassin or an assassin who kills ninjas? Yes.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Ninjas have been around for centuries and will offer their services to anyone who can pay their fee (100 pounds of gold). They take in orphans off the streets and put them through strict training regimens to turn them into killing machines. They have been employed by the wealthy and powerful and have eyes and ears in every government agency in the world.
  • Badass Normal: The Europol commandos, in the sense that they lack the very literal Charles Atlas Superpowers that the Ninjas have, yet are still able to kick ass.
  • Badass in Distress: Raizo. A few times, he has been captured and tied up, with Mika saving him Just in Time.
  • Berserk Button: Murder or attempt to murder a female that Raizo has grown to care about. Just try it.
  • Big Bad: Lord Ozunu.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Europol forces to set up the final showdown.
    • Earlier in the film, Mika via Car Fu.
  • Bizarre Human Biology: The movie featured multiple people with the medical condition Dextrocardia situs inversus, which occurs in approximately 1 in 12,000 people. In an inversion of both normal human anatomy and this trope, their hearts were tilted towards the right side of the chest, which saves each of them when a ninja tries to stab them in the heart.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Raizo does this to Lord Ozunu in the middle of their Final Battle.
    Raizo: I am not your son, and you are not my father.
  • Blade on a Rope: Raizo's preferred weapon is the kyoketsu-shoge, a chain with a curved blade attached to it.
  • Car Fu: Mika fishtails a car into a ninja before he could finish Raizo off.
  • Casting Gag: Raizo is played by Rain, Korean pop star.
    Agent: He doesn't look like a killing machine. Looks like he belongs in a boy band!"
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: A rare literal example. The ninjas are all much stronger, both physically and mentally, than the average human, which likely plays along with the supernatural element behind their training and overall capabilities. To emphasize this point, they can also teleport when in shadows, heal their wounds quickly, and the main hero and the main villain even have Super-Speed in the form of a Flash Step. Exaggerated with Lord Ozunu, who can do the other ninjas' Offscreen Teleportation despite being surrounded by light from a massive fire.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "accident of birth" that the old man in the first scene mentions ends up being what saves Mika in the end.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Deployed during the intro. A few delayed munitions go off over the remainder of the film.
  • Collateral Angst: The hero's love interest is killed off so he's got something to angst about.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: While none of the battles are easy, one-on-one fights tend to be just as difficult.
  • Contract on the Hitman: The Ozunu Clan made a grave mistake putting one of these on Raizo.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: At the end, we get ninjas versus commandos.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The ninja are nearly invincible if it's dark enough, gaining apparent teleportation powers. And everyone is savvy about this; the first thing Mika does when she gets home after learning of the clans is turn on all of her lights, and the first thing Europol does when they play Big Damn Heroes is shine spotlights all over the clan's headquarters and light it on fire.
    • This is one of the clues to Mika when she interviews a Russian agents' sister about her brother. She mentions that he got really paranoid in his last days and installed floodlights throughout the house. Too bad he didn't think to install a backup generator.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Raizo at times.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The idiots who get killed in the tattoo parlor at the beginning of the movie are not missed.
  • Double Weapon: Takeshi's sword can become one of these at his pleasure.
  • The Dragon: Takeshi to Lord Ozunu.
  • Dual Wielding: Many of the ninjas do this in the movie. Raizo does it at the end.
  • Dynamic Entry: With a car.
  • Evil Gloating: Takeshi gives a very knowing sadistic smirk to Raizo before executing Kiriko. Then taunts Raizo about it during their duel.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Ninja Assassin who assassinates ninjas.
  • Final Battle: A full battalion of Europol Commandos against a ninja clan.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Raizo has been captured and taken to the secret ninja temple, but secretly he has a GPS tracking device in his gut, alerting the good guys to the temple's location. The ninjas discover the device, and after that the temple is attacked.
  • Flash Step: Used in the final battle.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Possibly a non-fantasy example, seeing as Raizo, well...
  • Foreign Cuss Word: During the clan's attack on the safe house one of the Interpol men, once they see the ninjas on the ceiling, has just enough time to say "Scheiße!" before the ninjas attack.
  • Gorn: This movie has very bloody fight scenes.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Surprisingly. Once when Kiriko is put to death. Also subverted towards the end, when they switch to heat vision as one guy dies.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Mostly played straight, especially when ninjas have shadows handy. Many are shown to be able to dodge bullets. Averted at the end, however, once Europol storms the ninja school and breaks out the heavy machine guns, body armor (which ninja weaponry can still get through), rockets, and floodlights.
    • Played very straight when Mika puts two pistol rounds into Ozuna's back, and the only thing it does is piss him off.
  • Healing Factor: A power of Ozunu Clan ninjas. We're shown a demonstration of Lord Ozunu cutting his hand open and it healing in the space of a few seconds, and later Raizo closes up deep, wide, and long lacerations all over his chest and stomach apparently through sheer force of will.
  • More Dakka: How Europol beats the ninjas.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Raizo is very well-built and gets lots of Shirtless Scenes to show it off.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Downplayed. Mika is briefly seen taking a shower though not much is shown.
  • Muggles Do It Better: This film show that the ninja's powers can achieve some impressive feats. Surviving bullets isn't one of them. Similarly, the Ozunu clan has a good reason for keeping themselves shrouded in myth as they carry out their assassinations. Their attack on the Europol holding facility is a one-sided slaughter, but as terrifying and deadly as their individual members may be, the Europol counter-attack is devastating once they know how to bring modern equipment to bear on a foe that relies on shadows, concealment, and close-quarters.
  • Neutral Female: Subverted, since Mika manages to save Raizo's ass several times.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: The ninjas kill everything that get in their way without the slightest bit of difficulty... right up until they lose the advantages of surprise and darkness and have to fight men with automatic weapons.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: This movie was a vehicle for Korean pop star, Rain.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Played straight to the point of Deconstruction. The ninjas can teleport via shadows to the point of it almost being a literal superpower, but Europol realizes this, and use floodlights to deprive the ninjas of this advantage. Of course, the ninjas are aware of this weakness, so they usually cut the power (or break the light bulbs) before attacking anyone.
  • Old Master: Lord Ozunu.
  • One-Man Army: Raizo.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Raizo repeatedly, even with a cut through his intestines and multiple lacerations and deep, bloody wounds on his legs, he can move... however, this may be justified with his Training from Hell.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking:
    • Lord Ozunu is a much tougher opponent for Raizo than the other ninja.
    • Mika's Europol superior twice survives a fight with the ninjas when most of his men don't.
  • Red Shirt Army: Europol comes across as this for most of the movie, especially in their first fight against the ninjas where they're horribly outmatched.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Kiriko tries to desert the clan, only to be caught and executed as a example to everyone else.
  • The Rival: Takeshi to Raizo when they were training together. In the present day, he is one of the senior-ranked ninjas and mockingly calls him "little brother".
  • Rock Beats Laser: Or in this case Ninja weapons beat modern solders (but to be fair the ninjas did have the darkness and surprise on their side.), then came round two where said soldiers brought out bigger guns and spotlights then we started seeing an even fight.
  • R-Rated Opening: The opening is a Cluster F-Bomb, and the rest of the movie has relatively little cursing. The opening is also quite easily the goriest part, being one of the only bits where the gore goes beyond simple limb removal.