Recently, maturity has heightened my sensitivity to bloody violence in movies. The days of laughing at people who cringe and cover their eyes at the sight of gore have been replaced by my own moments of physical displeasure. And for someone who enjoys watching a range of movies, this transformation has been disconcerting at times. Self-assessment has prompted me to wonder if my newfound aversion to gore is a symptom of refined taste, or just plain ol’ curmudgeon-ation.
Fortunately, “Ninja Assassin” helped me confirm that I can keep my cane and wagging fist in storage for a bit longer.
In “Ninja Assassin,” a Europol agent named Mika Corretti (Naomie Harris of “28 Days Later”) stumbles upon a criminal enterprise involving secret assassin groups. As she digs deeper into the underworld of ninja clans (which have a history dating back centuries), she and her colleagues inadvertently step into a conflict between the ninjas.
What’s such a relief in “Ninja Assassin” is that the blood and gore (typical of a movie featuring blade violence) is too over-the-top to flinch at. The world of ninjas is so far removed from the reality of the viewer that the rules of acceptance for violence change, making it more acceptable. Therefore, the emotional elements of the story can easily blend with cartoonishly violent sequences so that “Ninja Assassin” becomes welcome experience for more sensitive viewers.
When thinking of other movies that employ excessive violence, while successfully telling an emotional story, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” executed the task more admirably than any movie I’ve ever seen. While the narrative of “Ninja Assassin” is not as sophisticated as Quentin Tarantino’s kung fu spaghetti western, the movie echoes that excessive violence can be easy to watch when it happens in a compelling and distant non-reality.