Lionsgate // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 9th, 2010
Vengeance never looked this good.
Recently, ninjas have enjoyed almost as much of a pop culture resurgence as vampires. An unfortunate by-product of such popularity are movies like this.
According to some blowhard narration, we learn there's an ancient Himalayan Empire that's deep in a power struggle. A gorgeous assassin (Gail Kim, WWE Diva), who may or may not possess some ninja skills (spoiler: not), has been dispatched to hunt down and murder the rightful heir of the kingdom -- a teenage girl living with someone who looks like Eric Roberts, but with a disinterested facial expression and a dead polar bear cub hot-glued to his scalp.
Another warrior has been sent to intercept the assassin and protect the princess; little does he know, he's not who he thinks he is. Or he is who he thinks he is...eventually...but not right away. At first he's not entirely sure of who he is, but learns he isn't who he was under the impression he was. Later, Pat Morita shows up and helps him figure things out.
So maybe this isn't precisely a ninja movie. The studio changed the title to Ninja's Creed from Royal Kill, which isn't that much sexier, though it's obvious why the change was made: to cash in on the ninja craze.
Shenanigans. I call it. Because there's not a lot of action here, ninja or otherwise. We get a couple of heavyweight bouts between the hero and the assassin. Unfortunately, they're shot and edited with the steady hand of a toddler hopped up on Cookie Crisp. Tight close-ups are overused, shrouding the fight choreography in a jumbled mess of foreheads, And when the camera does pull back to give a full view, the sequences take place in the dead of night. Add to that the iffy video quality and you have a muddled, unsavory cocktail of mayhem.
The primary focus is on the mystery elements anyway. There is a hefty helping of mythology exposition, but that exists primarily to push the central question of who the assassin is. The answer is revealed towards the end and, to the film's credit, it's a big twist. In fact, it felt too big for Ninja's Creed, drawing an unfavorable comparison to a major motion picture that sports one of the all-time greatest plot twists in cinema history (I won't tell, but you'll know). Then again...it is the most interesting thing going on in the film and I might actually remember it a week from now. That counts for something, no?
Probably not. In the end, Ninja's Creed is a clunky, contrived outing that's not worth your time.
The DVD: a shoddy 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, 5.1 Dolby Surround, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes and a segment on the score composition.
Does it say in the Creed anywhere about inflicting digital harm on innocents?
Guilty. Eat this shuriken. Eat it!!!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes