If there's a word that sums up the experience of being a male teenager watching videos in the 1980s it's ninja. 'Enter the Ninja', 'Way of the Ninja', 'American Ninja', 'American Ninja 2', 'Pray for Death', 'The Octagon', 'Rage of Honour', 'Ninja 3: The Domination', '9 Deaths of the Ninja'... titles triggering memories of homemade nunchucks, mullet worship and Wednesday afternoons after school playing 'Shinobi'. 'Ninja Assassin' is also guaranteed to get the nostalgia pangs going for some - they might even be tempted to track down a few of the 'classics' on DVD after watching it.
After years of training from the evil Ozunu (1980s ninja movie legend Kosugi), orphan Raizo (Rain) realises that life as a killer for hire is not for him and goes on the run. While trying to stay one swordfight ahead of his former colleagues and plot his revenge, he crosses paths with Europol agent Mika (Harris), whose investigations have also made her an Ozunu target. Yes, there's a body bags shortage coming on...
Made by '...Matrix' producers the Wachowskis, 'Ninja Assassin' takes itself just as seriously and has the same clunky dialogue, but the action is a lot gorier and bone-crunching. In between blood on the walls and blood on the lens you get characters from central casting and lines like "The report caused problems for Alexi's career the way Moses caused problems for the Pharaohs", "I want the international task force mobilised and ready to go in five minutes!" (they are) and "I want a medic here - now!" (he is).
So, it's good fun, then. And had the people behind the cameras given Korean pop star Rain a gift voucher for screen presence lessons and played up the suspense a bit more - no big ask given that 'V for Vendetta's James McTeigue directed - it would've been even better.
Those shortcomings can be rectified, though, because every set piece here suggests that we haven't seen the last of Rain and his abs. Now, any chance Michael Dudikoff and Franco Nero could be roped in for part two?