James McTeigue’s “Ninja Assassin” certainly has its share of problems (the acting is subpar and the script is even worse), but while it definitely chooses style over substance, that style features so many killer action sequences that it’s still worth checking out. The Blu-ray release smartly hews towards those strengths, resulting in a nice collection of bonus features that fans of the film will definitely appreciate.
“The Myth and Legend of Ninjas”
This 18-minute featurette delves into the history of the ninja, using interviews with real-life ninja masters to discuss how the warring states of Japan during the 16th century led to the demise of the ninja. There’s also a brief discussion about the various kinds of weapons used (some basic and some so specialized that only a certain clan was proficient in it), as well as how ninjas have become a pop cultural icon in comic books and movies over the last few decades. It’s not a particularly well-made special, but diehard martial arts buffs will enjoy it nonetheless.
“The Extreme Sport of a Ninja”
By far the best of the bunch, this stunt featurette offers a brief glimpse at the making of every major action sequence in the film. Though the stunt team consisted of the usual suspects, it’s also revealed that other likeminded athletes (like free runners and gymnasts) were also recruited and trained as stuntmen in order to provide the ninjas with a unique style. There’s so much raw awesomeness packed into this 10 minutes that by the time it’s over, there’s a good chance you’ll want to change career paths.
This featurette follows the grueling martial arts and body fitness training that Rain was put through in order to transform him from a Korean pop star into a super-ripped badass. The stunt guys have nothing but praise for the wannabe actor, admitting that his background in dance helped him pick up and memorize the complex fight choreography so quickly. The comparisons to Bruce Lee are mostly unwarranted, but it’s easy to see why these guys are so impressed.
You’re not really missing anything here, as most of the so-called deleted scenes are mostly just missing bits from events that still take place in the film. There’s a brief flashback to the ninja camp during the Laundromat scene, another where Raizo jacks a car, and two more involving the Europol characters getting chewed out by their respective bosses.
The story doesn’t really benefit from any of the additional material, so they were probably best left on the cutting room floor. The other extras, however, are all interesting in their own right, and they more than make up for a lack of an audio commentary or proper making-of featurette. The two-disc set also includes a digital copy of the film and a sneak peak at the upcoming “Clash of the Titans” movie. It might not be Warner Brother’s finest hour, but it’s certainly more than I would have expected from one of the studio’s less successful films of 2009.