The best thing about Ninja Assassin is its refreshingly honest title: unlike those few, unwary souls who rush to Precious solely on the strength of its twee title and happy-go-lucky television trailers, no one who sees Ninja Assassin can reasonably complain about the violence.
Which is just as well, because this saga, set in Berlin, is more committed to its bloodletting than to any of its characters. The plot, when glimpsed between flying body parts, concerns Raizo (the South Korean former boy-band member Rain), a rogue ninja with a grudge against the clan that abducted him as a child and killed his ninja honey.
That makes him very useful to Mika (Naomie Harris), an Interpol-style cop who suspects world governments of hiring ninjas to do their dirtiest deeds. If only Raizo would keep his shirt on, then maybe she could concentrate enough to prove it.
Perhaps in homage to his rippling star (whose martial arts prowess Im not qualified to judge but whose hotness, whether throwing knives or folding laundry, is self-evident), the director, James McTeigue, rarely misses an opportunity to drench the film in water.
Flashbacks to ninja training school — first love, first wounds, first downpour — are quite lovely, making us wish that the film had remained in the past and avoided the present-day blurs of shadowy, red-and-black action.
Ninjas may be slippery when wet, but if we learned anything from Indiana Jones, its that bullets trump sharp objects every time.