Ninja Assassin: Creative Minds Team Up

Ninja Assassin Ninja Assassin Ninja Assassin Ninja Assassin Ninja Assassin

"Ninja Assassin," directed by James McTeigue and starring Rain, is about a young ninja who turns against the orphanage that raised him. The film was released November 25 by Warner Bros.

Ninjas are the special forces of the martial arts world, and director James McTeigue and producers Joel Silver, Andy and Larry Wachowski and Grant Hill wanted to bring them to the screen as never before.

States producer Silver, "We each felt that the pure martial arts film is a kind of a subgenre that hasn't really had its due in the U.S. We were always talking about doing something like taking the legend of the ninja, which dates back to the 14th century, and dropping this silent killer into a truly modern world."

The filmmakers wanted to utilize the classic ninja movie structure in which an enigmatic master schools select children to become unbelievable fighters or assassins, who people in the "real world" of the film believe to be a myth. That is, of course, until their two worlds intersect and the disbelievers witness these incredible martial artists in action.

"Ninjas were the shadowy characters who always came out of the darkness," says director McTeigue, who also recalls the influences of his upbringing in Australia. "We got anime from Japan and a lot of the TV serials as well, like 'The Samurai' and 'The Phantom Agents'–shows that had elements of the folkloric ninja in them, where the characters were raised in an orphanage or the like. For this film, we talked about those classic elements, but also adding an edgy film noir aspect to it."

"It's no secret that each of us, Larry and Andy in particular, has a strong affinity for Japanese storytelling and culture," offers producer Hill, "but how does the world of the ninja wrap itself around the 21st century?"?

That became the job of screenwriters Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski, who were brought on board to pen the script.

"I trained in karate all through college, and the martial arts have been a big part of my life for a long time," says Sand. "So to get to write the kind of ninja movie I've always wanted to see was a dream come true."

"I've always loved the genre, but it seemed like no one had made a serious ninja movie in a long time, at least not in the West," notes Straczynski. "Ninjas have been used so often for comic relief that it felt as if no one was taking them seriously any longer. The chance to make a movie that presented ninjas as being scary as hell was very appealing," he smiles, "and working with the Wachowskis is always rewarding and intellectually daunting because they both have these 12-story brains and you really have to be on your toes to keep up with them."?

The screenplay began to take shape. Says Sand, "It's an origin story. The orphanage–the idea of these ninjas being a family in a twisted, dark way–and one man, Raizo, coming to terms with a substitute father who was the most awful father imaginable. Where Raizo came from as a character is exactly what the ninja clans are all about. They made him. Motivated by a lost love, his reacting against them rather than becoming what they had in mind, along with the story of the agent investigating the clans, made it a different type of a ninja movie than we'd ever seen."