[movie id="412608"]"Ninja Assassin"[/movie] starts off with one of the coolest and most gruesomely entertaining movie scenes of the year: a claustrophobic attack from some masked killers who slice, dice and decapitate their way through some unlucky gangsters, spraying blood around the room like they're firefighters trying to extinguish a four-alarmer.
From there, director James McTeigue ([movie id="268983"]"V for Vendetta"[/movie]) and his star Rain take us on a global treasure hunt in which the nominal goal is vengeance but whose real aim is to kill as many people in as insane a fashion as possible. Run-and-slash sword fights on a busy highway! Armed-soldier-vs.-ninja melees! Spooky, flashlight-assisted battles that leave you hoping never to run into a ninja in a dark alley. The film barrels into theaters on Wednesday (November 25), and here are five things you should know before checking it out:
There's Blood, Blood and. .. Oh, Yeah — Blood!
Did we mention this one is bloody? Heads are removed from necks, stomachs are slashed open, limbs are sent flying, faces are abused. And most of it was accomplished though the magic of computer-generated technology.
"The aesthetic of the film was to pitch the blood somewhere between anime and gameplay," McTeigue told MTV News. "So I did do some practical effects on set, and it got augmented digitally in post-production. I really wanted the aesthetic of the blood to look different in this film."
Rain Is A Big Deal
In Asia, Rain is a household name, but he's yet to break into the American mainstream. The Korean pop star and actor is hoping "Ninja Assassin" — in which he plays Raizo, a revenge-seeking professional killer who doffs his shirt in half his battles and shows off a physique in which every pec and pack pops — will change all that.
"It's hard to even walk in streets in Asia," Rain told MTV News. "I hope it'll be the same [in America]. Raizo is very sexy. I love my character."
"I'm introducing a bloody sex symbol," laughed McTeigue
The Fire Is Real
With so many epic skirmishes, moviegoers might leave the theater debating which one was their favorite, but both Rain and McTeigue vote for the climatic final sequence. We won't spoil the fun, but suffice to say it involves a lot of fire.
"It was real flame!" said Rain. "There is no wire and no camera tricks."
"And he had bare feet — that's always hard — and he didn't have a shirt on," McTeigue added. "Once the flame effect comes up, it's kind of like being in an oven. Normally, he has grease and sweat on him, so he starts to bake like a turkey."
It Nods to Ninjas Past
Aficionados of classic '80s ninja flicks like "Enter the Ninja" will immediately recognize the main villain in "Assassin": Sho Kosugi, who plays the orphanage taskmaster that trains Raizo and eventually become his nemesis.
When he looked to cast his villain, McTeigue was well-aware of Kosugi's cinematic history and actively sought him out for a role that would pay respect to movies ninjas past. "Absolutely it was an homage to Sho," the director said. "In those '80s movies, he was the ninja, he was the guy. To get him to play the orphanage master, it was great."
It Looks Toward the Ninja Future
One thing you'll certainly be thinking throughout "Assassin" is how it almost looks and feels like a video game. Could gamers one day pick up controllers and guide Raizo through a digital world?
"It'd be good to do a game," McTeigue. "The only thing with a game is when we made this movie, we were backing into the writers' strike. But you need lead time on a game of about two years, so maybe if there's 'Ninja Assassin 2,' there'll be a game."
For a sequel, could Rain go through the six months of nonstop training it took to get into fighting shape? "I'll think about it," laughed the star. "You know what? It was so painful!"
McTeigue then had a great solution. "He's going to go the other way. This diet will be cigars and alcohol and really flabby. We're actually not going to go to 'Ninja Assassin 2.' We're going to go to 'Ninja Assassin 22: The Old Man,' it'll be called."
Check out everything we've got on "Ninja Assassin."
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