Comic-Con 08: First Look at James McTeigue's Ninja Assassin!
by Alex Billington
July 26, 2008
Back on Thursday at Comic-Con, I finally got to see a first look at James McTeigue's Ninja Assassin, a movie I've been following for the longest time. In the film, Rain stars as Raizo, one of the deadliest ninja assassins in the world, who looks to avenge the death of his friend by betraying the clan that trained him. Not only is Rain's involvement quite exciting, but McTeigue's involvement, the same guy who directed V for Vendetta, is really what has me genuinely very excited for this. Not only did I catch up with McTeigue after the panel, but the presentation of footage was phenomenal. I really had no clue what to expect and finally wanted to see some footage and damn it looked awesome. This is every ninja fan's ultimate wet dream - an amazing assassin revenge movie complete with more ninjas that you could ever imagine.
The trailer for Ninja Assassin was truly breathtaking, in an intense and exciting sense, and also was unfortunately something that most will never get to see in advance of watching the actual movie. James McTeigue describes what I saw best: a combination of anime and horror with ninjas, lots and lots of ninjas. This looks like the greatest mainstream ninja movie that anyone might ever see. If you're a fan of ninjas, even in the slightest, then you're going to instantly be a fanatic of this. It starts out with a boy growing up in a small village learning the ways of ninjas and eventually leads to his revenge later on. There wasn't much of a story (or any dialogue) in the trailer, but that didn't matter – the action kicked ass.
This also looked incredibly R rated. Every time someone would smoothly slice a blade across someone else, the blood flowed freely. This where the horror element came into play, because it was incredibly bloody but not exactly in a horrific sense – stylized instead. McTeigue is a filmmaker who definitely attempts to push the limits and he did it with V for Vendetta and he's about to do it again with Ninja Assassin. There was not just one ninja – there were multiples, flying in from everywhere, slicing up people left and right. There were scenes in the middle of a road where ninjas were leaping over cars, scenes with ninjas hiding in the roof waiting to attack a SWAT team, and even one of the best fight scenes in a bathroom I've ever seen!
If you take a look at the photo at the top, you'll notice Rain looks slightly red. That is indeed because he's covered entirely in blood. In a separate scene, Rain fights a guy in the bathroom and starts stabbing him with a very short blade in the neck and other important nerve points, so the blood is gushing out everywhere. Soon enough the entire bathroom, and Rain, were covered in blood yet the fighting continued. And at the end of the trailer, Rain bashes the guy's head into a urinal as a finisher. This isn't your mom and pop's violence either, this is hardcore. You can feel every last slice and every last hit – and it's as painful as hell! It's not cartoony, it's not cheesy, it's unrelenting violent ninja action at its finest.
Before I wrapped up the evening, I caught up briefly with McTeigue himself. Although he's personally inspired by Ninja Scroll, this was just something that came from their own imagination. "We've been talking about ninja movies for a long time," McTeigue recalled. In terms of the action and extreme violence, McTeigue stats that "if you're going to make a ninja movie, you've got to go there, and we went there." At one point, it was rumored that Ninja Assassin was a live-action remake of the Ninja Scroll anime, but that ended up being fake. Instead, McTeigue explains that "Ninja Scroll has a lot of cool set pieces, a lot of cool action pieces." He adds that he "was interested in making a cross between an anime, horror film, and also a bit of film noir." What I saw was exactly that and kicked ass!
Although this movie certainly won't be for everyone, I hope a lot of people still at least give it a chance. Ninja Assassin might just be the first awesome ninja movie we'll see and thus it's something no one should miss. I was expecting the footage to kick ass and it did - and that's actually quite rare at Comic-Con. Ninja Assassin is tentatively set for release on January 16th, 2009 from Warner Brothers so stay tuned!