Ninja Assassin: Finding the Right Raizo

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Rain plays Raizo in “Ninja Assassin,” directed by James McTeigue, is about a young ninja who turns against the orphanage that raised him.

The film was released November 25 by Warner Bros.

In order to be certain they could make the kind of film they all wanted to see, they had to find the perfect Raizo–someone who was not only able to take on the physical demands of the character’s warrior side, but who could also be a believable leading man. ?

“The day that Rain did his first scene in ‘Speed Racer,'” recalls Silver, “the Wachowski brothers called me and said, ‘This guy is unbelievable. He’s a natural. He is our dream come true.’ And we began to plan ‘Ninja Assassin’ immediately.”

McTeigue says, “Even though it was a relatively small role, Rain’s physical ability was so good that we thought if we could do an all-out ninja movie, he would be the one to do it with.”

“When we were working on that film, Larry and Andy approached me and asked if I would be interested in being a ninja,” remembers Rain. “How could I say no to that? I told them, ‘Tell me when and where and I’ll be there.'”

The character of Raizo, played by Rain, is brought as a child to the orphanage run by Lord Ozunu, who heads the Ozunu Clan. There Raizo is trained to be a heartless assassin, but he also finds someone to give his heart to, Kiriko, another young trainee. Her terrible fate, however, seals Raizo’s as well and he rejects the clan, making it his life’s mission to try and stop them. Raizo’s main objective is to trace his way back to the secret location of the Ozunu clan’s orphanage and to make sure that no more children are kidnapped, brutalized and turned into assassins. At the same, time he must prevent them from killing him as well.

Says Silver, “Raizo is so genuine, he is really trying to rise above the hand that was dealt him, to reject the monster who trained him, and become a better person than he was taught to be.”

“Raizo is a great assassin, one of the best students Lord Ozunu has ever had,” says Rain. “But the bloodshed gets to him, and he has to escape. But you can never leave openly. And by leaving, he must betray Ozunu, who will then stop at nothing to destroy Raizo. So Raizo leads a quiet, anonymous life…knowing that one day, Ozunu will find him.”

The role of Raizo called for an actor with a special intensity, who could convey a lot of emotion in a very subtle way.

“Rain is smart and instinctive and incredibly dedicated,” says McTeigue. “He was a joy to work with.”

Silver adds, “Rain really is a magnetic personality. You can’t take your eyes off of him, he commands the screen.”