Set predominantly in Berlin, Germany, ‘Ninja Assassin’ is a crime thriller movie that tells the story of Raizo (Rain), an elite ninja assassin, who leaves his clan after its leader, Lord Ozunu (Shô Kosugi), orders the death of the woman he loves. Raizo returns years later with only revenge in his mind. He teams up with Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris), a Europol forensic researcher, intending to bring down Ozunu and the clan he leads.
Since the film’s release in 2009, many audience members have wondered whether ninjas still exist in the modern world. Furthermore, the film’s depictions of assassinations organized by governments and private parties have made people question whether real-life events inspire it. Here is what we know about it.
Is Ninja Assassin Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Ninja Assassin’ is not based on a true story. While filming ‘Speed Racer,’ Lana and Lilly Wachowski came up with the idea for ‘Ninja Assassin’ after witnessing how effortlessly South Korean pop star Rain performs his ninja-esque action sequences. James McTeigue, with whom the Wachowskis have previously worked on ‘V for Vendetta,’ subsequently joined the project as its director. According to McTeigue, they drew inspiration from the ninja films of their youth and then added additional elements of film noir and popular anime such as ‘Ninja Scrolls.’
The scripting of the martial arts film also went through an interesting process. Lana and Lilly Wachowski had the draft of ‘New Assassin’ ready, but they weren’t that fully satisfied with it. So the duo approached their friend and writer, J. Michael Straczynski, who created an entirely new draft in just 53 hours. While the film is largely fictional, its backstory is rooted in history. The ninjas truly existed in feudal Japan and were used by the ruling class to scout, infiltrate, spy, and sow discord in the enemy territories. And of course, they were also used for assassinations.
Unlike the Samurai, the ninjas were not bound by the strict codes of conventional warfare and often proved to be incredibly versatile investments. The ninjas traditionally hailed from the pageant class, and the weapons they often used reflected that. For instance, the kusarigama, a modified version of which appears in the film, is a deadly weapon of the ninjas made up of a chain and a sickle.
‘Ninja Assassin’ depicts the ninjas carrying all their traditional weapons: katanas, daggers, and throwing stars. However, the film sometimes ventures beyond the bounds of history and heavily uses the lore around the ninjas. In the neo-noir film, the ninjas have supernatural abilities. The masters of the Ozunu clan can heal themselves and use the shadow-blending technique. In modern days, the ninjas continue to be part of lore, art, and literature.
Although they themselves are not involved in intrigue and espionage any longer, their fighting style and other aspects of their profession have been incorporated by special forces around the world. The film depicts that Mika and the tattooist that the audience meets in the opening scene have their hearts on the right sides of their bodies. This is a real condition called Dextrocardia with Situs Inversus. Caused by autosomal recessive genes, the condition affects an extremely rare group of people. Clearly, it is understandable that one may think that ‘Ninja Assassin’ is based on true events when it actually isn’t.
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