Ninja Assassin and High Integrity

We discussed the movie “Ninja Assassin” in an earlier blog post. I got a lot of strong comments about what the movie was and what it could have been.

Did you get a copy of the “Ninja Assassin” movie on Blu-Ray? Be sure you check the “Additional Features” section on the menu. Blu-Ray only; not the standard DVD.

Before the film hit theaters, the producers flew me to Los Angeles to tape some commentary on the historical background of Japan’s real ninja. Also in the interview is actor Sho Kosugi from the movie, commenting on cultural perceptions of the ninja, and a local California martial artist showing some commercially available imitations of ninja weapons.

I was impressed with the producers.

Clearly, they were making a movie to entertain large audiences. They were not making a movie to please a tiny group of ninja historians. They did not write the script to fit the notions of a small group of traditional ninjutsu practitioners.

Think about the honesty and integrity of the “Ninja Assassin” producers. They did not have to acknowledge an alternate reality at odds with their story. They did not have to hire me to talk about training with the actual ninja of Japan in the 1970s. They could have just let history go and focused on promoting their entertaining film.

How about that? “The Godfather” DVD did not interview an actual mafia don. “The Da Vinci Code” DVD did not include an actual Vatican bishop. “Star Wars” DVDs did not interview an actual astrophysicist.

The “Ninja Assassin” DVD did nonetheless recruit and interview an actual practitioner of historical Japanese ninja martial arts with a view and story quite different from what they portrayed on the screen.

For Hollywood, that is pretty brave, pretty high integrity, I think.

12 comments to “Ninja Assassin and High Integrity”

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  1. Scott Workman says: -#1

    I think it is nice they did that, I would love to see a more The last Samurai type movie but mybe someday, I would love to hear about your involvement in in the old Enter the ninja movie if any, I think you listed it as one of your credits before. Or how about any talks you had with Mr. Kosugi, I remember seeing a picture of him with Mr. Tanemura a long time ago.

  2. I would love to see that interview. I have not yet seen the movie and was not aware that Sho Kosugi was part of the cast. I must see it now. Thank you for the information.

  3. Daniel L Dunn says: -#1

    I didn’t ever plan to see it thinking that it would be filled with wild images of heartless thugs posings as ninja’s abusing the honorable past for a few cheap laughs, and I even wondered whether or not they would have motorcycle riding orage garbed bullies crashing through windows to help the ninjas barrage innocent people with round-house kicks and punches. After hearing the sense spoken about the movie and its purpose and the suprising integrity of the producers I as well will make a point to see it when possible.

  4. I did not like this movie one bit. I think it is a disgrace to what to shin do and ninjutsu represent. Turned it off 15 minutes into the movie.

  5. Lorenzo Pascucci says: -#1

    Reading this post, remember me of another movie that was discussed in this blog: “The men who stare at goats”. I saw this movie few days ago, and i saw also the special contents of the dvd. I can tell you that the message that come out from the extra contents (like the interview with the writer of the homonymous book -from which the movie comes from- or the interview with the real people who inspiring the characters of the movie) is different from the message you can get by watching only the movie. The movie is a comedy, the spirit and the purposes inspiring those people was very serious and someway very similar to some To-Shin Do concepts. I see analogies between their words and ours. I suggest you to watch that movie, just for fun, and, very much important, to watch the extra-contents, just to think.


  6. It’s only a movie! No reason to get uptight, right. You know where negativity in your mind may lead you.

  7. I just watched the movie last night with a buddy of mine. I liked it simply because I am an action movie junkie. But we must remember that as we walk the path we have chosen there will be those people that will try to make us look bad and ridicule us for the art we choose to follow and practice. This just puts a greater responsibility on us to show the world what real ninja are all about. We need to work harder to present our lineage in the positive light in which it was intended. I for one am not afraid of a little hard work.

  8. I have seen the movie, though I have not viewed the special feature comments mentioned above. Although it did not do well at the box office the visually effects were better than the usual ninja fare , cgi blood non- withstanding. Also the ninja did not seem “mindless” as previous movies, except for the final battle. As for authentic ninjutsu it would take a series of movies well thought out from past to present to accurately represent the art. Child abuse didn’t go over well.
    One thing, wouldn’t it be great to self-regenerate from wounds.

  9. Interesting…unquestionably good food for thought. I hope you do not mind if I pass this on to a couple of other people I know.

  10. Kevin Winters says: -#1

    Just got the Blu-ray version and watched the segment on the historical ninja, which I enjoyed thoroughly. With Masaaki Hatsumi, Richard Van Donk, and, of course, Stephen Hayes, it was an informative introduction to the historical ninja. I would say, for the ninja enthusiast, it is a must have. Thank you, An Shu, for participating!

  11. I have to be honest, i only took interest in this movie when i realised Sho Kosugi was in it. I sure would love to see the interview regarding the ‘Cultural history of the Ninja’ that Sensei Hayes was referring too.

    Sensei Hayes?… Is the Los Angeles commentary available to view anywhere on the internet?

    Thank you in advance.


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