The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner Bros. - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 99 minutes
Genre: Martial Arts/Action
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Rain, Naomi Harris, Randall Duk Kim, Ben Miles, Anna Sawai, Rick Yune
Directed by: James McTiegue
Music by: Ilan Eshkeri
Written by: Matthew Sand & J. Michael Straczynski
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 16, 2010
"Fear not the weapon but the hand that wields it"
The filmmakers behind The Matrix and V for Vendetta bring new blood to martial arts movies in this smashing adventure. Korean pop star Rain plays heroic, deadly Raizo. Trained from childhood in the way of the Ozunu Clan ninja, he is stalked by fellow warriors and their dojo patriarch (martial arts legend Sho Kosugi)…and is on the run with a Europol agent (Naomie Harris) who has proof the clan sells assassination services to governments.
Raizo (Rain) is an orphan taken in at a young age and trained by a mythical and secret society of ninja headed by Ozunu (Kosugi). He rules with an iron fist and teaches that failure is not an option and doing so requires payment in blood. Ozunu’s tactics are brutal but ultimately effective in training his “children” to become skilled at stealth, use of weaponry, and the art of killing. Raizo shows great promise as a student but suffers his share of failure and punishment. Kiriko, (Sawai) also a trainee, sees something different in Raizo and is kind to him. She believes in the power of a good heart, senses this in him and convinces Raizo of his self worth. Over time they become close but keep their friendship a secret. Kiriko grows tired of the ways of the Yakuza and seeks to escape to the outside world and free herself. Things don’t go as planned and there are consequences for her. This results in Raizo turning on his “brothers” and separating from the clan. Fast forward several years. Mika (Harris), a forensic analyst with Europol and Europol agent Maslow (Miles) are investigating leads that point to the fact that for years, government agencies having been using ninjas to carry out high profile assassinations. The two begin poking around which draws unwanted attention and makes them targets. This sets the stage for Raizo to come out of hiding and exact his revenge on Ozunu and the clan as they close in on Mika for the purposes of ending her investigation and silencing her forever. The two team up and find themselves facing insurmountable odds that take martial arts action to blood flying, limb chopping, and incredulous new heights.
Let me state up front that Ninja assassin isn’t the type of action film that is designed to be credible. Its contrived theme, weak plot, and underdeveloped characters are clear evidence of that. What it is meant to be is an over the top martial arts spectacle designed to engage with its special effects and extended fight sequences. At this level it does succeed if you suspend disbelief and just go with it. I went in with low expectations after hearing bad things from those who had seen it. I found it entertaining from a Saturday afternoon martial arts movie perspective. Rain did a decent job and there is no denying his credibility as a martial arts lead. The blood laden special effects and large fight sequences were fun and I didn’t mind the gapping holes in the story. As you will read below it looks and sounds spectacular in high definition which helps make it more palatable. If you’re the type that normally likes guilty pleasure action flicks my advice is to grab a bowl of popcorn, check your brain at the door and enjoy the show.
The rating is for language and pervasive bloody stylized violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Ninja assassin comes to Blu-ray disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
This is a reference quality video presentation from Warner that looks superb. Images are visually arresting and have a rich dynamic quality that highlights its near flawless rendering of detail. The video has a three dimensional and razor sharp clarity that never left me wanting. The visual design features a limited color scheme that is aesthetically mated to the subject matter. The majority of the film boasts shades of gray, sepia, white and black. These colors are not vivid in tonality but rendering is clean and gradationally satisfying. The deep crimson red used to depict the gallons of blood displayed throughout the film look great against the otherwise limited chromatic elements onscreen. Contrast is bold with inky blacks that have a near infinite level of depth without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the darkened streets, building interiors and unevenly lit exterior venue look stunning. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a fairly sophisticated visual design that uses real imagery mixed with CGI. The end result is a superlative video presentation that conveys the spirit of the film.
The 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack presented here is an impressive one that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. This is an engaging and dynamically energized surround mix that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation, seamless integration, and rhythmically charged bass extension that bass fanatics are sure to appreciate. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or tonal inflection of voices. This is a complex sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each was clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement.
This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that elevated the enjoyment of this action film. Those who like playing their systems at reference levels will appreciate its transient low frequency peaks, extended dynamic range and high level clarity. It superlative high definition video is demonstration worthy and features deep blacks and exquisite rendering that looked terrific on my large screen. Kudos to Warner on a job well done.
- (HD) Behind the story:
- The myth and legend of ninjas – 18 minute documentary
- The extreme sport of ninja – 10 minute production featurette
- Training Rain – 9 minute featurette
- (HD) 5 deleted scenes
- (HD) Exclusive look at the new Clash of the Titans – 5 minutes
- WB BD-Live enabled
- Bonus DVD + Digital Copy of Ninja assassin
Ninja assassin is a martial arts action film that features a rudimentary story but packs on enough action weight to make it worthy of consideration if you are in need of a guilty pleasure/popcorn flick fix. If that isn’t enough to stir interest its presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Warner should entice those interested in showing off their systems with its reference quality DTS-HD Master Audio lossless surround sound and pristine high definition video. The included bonus features package offers a limited look at the production but is pertinent to the film’s subject and is worth checking out. This isn’t great cinema, but genre fans that can get by its weak story and appreciate it for what is, should have a decent time with Ninja Assassin on Blu-ray.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package