The pre-credits sequence of this martial arts actioner is unflinchingly violent. James McTeigue’s follow-up to his dystopian debut feature, V For Vendetta, finds the director moving into the predictable mode.
The story, or what there is of it, is used merely as a ploy for one blood-splattered skirmish after another.
Like the chopsocky cheapies of the 1980s. (Enter the Ninja, American Warrior), the expensively-mounted Ninja Assassin never settles on a consistent tone.
Some scenes aim for dramatic intensity while others unfold like high camp.
To make matters worse, most of the flash-bang combats are filmed in near darkness making it impossible to figure out who’s doing what to whom, where and why.
Be that as it may, the effort earns grudging admiration for its breakneck pace, mind-bogglingly swift editing and high-octane energy.
The narrative initially sets up a provocative premise: what if an ancient ninja clan is hired to carry out political assassinations in present-day Europe?
As it turns out, the most formidable of the assailants has defected from the group years ago. He (Rain), the Korean pop singer-actor recently seen in (Speed Racer) now uses his super powers to protect the innocent from the wrath of his former confreres.
For a touch of feminine allure, a pretty investigator (Harris) pops up to join forces with the one-man demolition army.
Needless to carp, the duo emerges unfazed from the non-stop carnage. This mindless malarkey is likely to satisfy the thrill seekers. Others, however, may find that it’s too much feet and fury about nothing.