In addition to some newer rental releases, I also sat down to watch some older films, including Ninja Assassin and Whiteout.
A few minutes into the film a group soon to be massacred is presented with an envelope filled with black sand (whatever that means). It may be subtler than a tornado, but ninjas with the common courtesy to let their victims know they are coming before death descends? Eh.
This sand thing is just one of many problems I have with Ninja Assassin. The story follows Raizo, a highly trained assassin who made the ill-advised decision to break from his ninja clan years ago. The constant fight between the two might not be the most original story, but it would have been far better off than the awkward blending with the additional storyline concerning a woman who gets added to the hit list when she starts sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.
With that in mind, if there is anything I have learned from action films it is if you do the action well enough, a lot of things can be forgiven. This is exactly where Ninja Assassin fits in. The film finds its comfort zone when the dismembering begins, redecorating the sets with a fresh coat of blood. Occasionally the busy shots make it hard to distinguish what is really going on, but for the most part the action is truly a sight to see, blending weapons play, acrobatics, and some parkour that could possibly put the Prince of Persia to shame.
Something I really appreciated is the lack of wirework in the fight sequences. Everything is possible to do with the body alone, but that doesn’t mean you should go try it for yourself. You are going to break something. This truthfulness in the action was slightly ruined by the supernatural skills the ninjas have, including quick healing, bursts of shadowy super speed, scent tracking, and loudly audible whispering. Okay, the last one isn’t a superpower, but it was still off-putting. In the end, if it had stuck to the realistic it would have been much better off.
Ninja Assassin is by no means an amazing film, but that did not stop me from having fun while watching it thanks to the amazing fight sequences that allowed me to forget just how horrible the story is.
Final Grade: C+
I hate the cold, so a thriller with a killer running around offing people in the Arctic sounds like my own special brand of Hell. Turns out thrillers don’t really like the cold either.
In Whiteout Kate Beckinsale plays a US marshal trying to solve a series of murders down on an arctic station before a horrible storm rolls in. And with the storm comes artistic license. Let’s just take a look at the costumes: When it is -50 degrees a person needs to be wearing a lot of protective gear in order to survive the harsh conditions. Just look at what happens the Kate Beckinsale’s hand when she forgets her gloves. Yet somehow the characters manage to wander around outside without covering their faces. But hey, I love Beckinsale as an actress so I know that I personally would much prefer to get to see her emoting when need be.
I can look past ignoring the laws of the real world when being factual is detrimental to the film, which becomes apparent when they actually choose to remain factually accurate in concern to the weather conditions. In order to move around outside, the characters must tether themselves to ropes so that the brutal winds and/or thick snowstorms don’t send them heading in the wrong direction. However, when a murderer is chasing you and you still take the time to tether yourself down, something just doesn’t seem right. Not only that, but rather than building tension as the killer chases after the potential victim, this process actually slows down the action, taking away the nail biting idea that the filmmakers were going for.
In the end Whiteout is about as bland as the view in a thick snowstorm, lacking the depth and suspense that it tried to force.
Final Grade: C