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NINJA ASSASSIN – Ilan Eshkeri

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A martial arts action adventure directed by James McTeigue (the director of V for Vendetta), Ninja Assassin follows the fortunes of a young man named Raizo who, having been trained as a ninja since he was a small boy, grows up to be one of the deadliest assassins in the world. However, when his Master orders the murder of Raizo’s best friend, he turns his back on the clan that raised him; suffering a crisis of conscience, he teams up with a beautiful Interpol agent intend on bringing the ninjas to justice. The film stars Raine, Naomie Harris, Randall Duk Kim and Rick Yune, and has an original score by English composer Ilan Eshkeri, the former protégé of the late great Michael Kamen who has been making a name for himself in recent years off the back of projects such as Hannibal Rising and Stardust.

On Ninja Assassin, Eshkeri has clearly tried to tap into the urban zeitgeist, and then tried to marry that musical sound with the synthesized action stylings of Hans Zimmer and his associates; he was not entirely successful, although some of the score is enjoyable in a brainless crowd-pleasing kind of way. Much of the music has a relentless, pounding nature, with electric guitars and synthesizers intoning persistent rhythms over the dense orchestral base. After the meandering opening cue, “Ninja Assassin”, Eshkeri lays it on thick in “Training”, which combines synth power anthems with taiko-style drumming in a way that is actually quite impressive. He really goes for broke in later cues, notably “Escape from Safehouse”, “Soldiers Attack”, and the never-ending “Raizo vs. Ozuno/Freedom”, which are cacophonies of noise, rhythm and energy, again featuring all manner of throbbing guitars, electronic pulses, and orchestral stabs.

It’s breathless stuff, and certainly generates plenty of volume, but subtlety is not one of its strong points. To reflect the eastern inflections of the score, Eshkeri occasionally adds a brief flutter from a wood flute, or a tinkling samisen, or another oriental instrument, but these are mere accents, and never really make any kind of impression on the music. The album concludes with a set of songs from artists as varied as The Human League, David Bowie and hip-hop superstar Xzibit, some of which are decent, some of which are hideous. I’ll leave you to make up your mind which are which. If you like your music loud, violent, and unremitting – basically, the aural equivalent of shots of adrenaline directly into your cochlea – then Ninja Assassin could well be the perfect score to wake you up in the morning. Otherwise… well, lets just say that you might need some aspirin aftwerwards.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Ninja Assassin (6:17)
  • Training (6:35)
  • Kiriko Runs (2:26)
  • Mika’s Apartment (4:43)
  • First Kill (1:26)
  • Skyscraper Rain (3:24)
  • Escape From Safehouse (6:30)
  • Healing (5:14)
  • Soldiers Attack (3:15)
  • Raizo vs. Ozuno/Freedom (7:09)
  • Being Boiled (performed by The Human League) (4:17)
  • Helden (performed by David Bowie) (6:03)
  • Shazam! (performed by Spiderbait) (2:06)
  • The MC Remix (performed by Ryuzo) (3:56)
  • Legacy (performed by Raekwon featuring Xzibit & Murs) (3:45).

Running Time: 67 minutes 06 seconds

iTunes Digital Download (2009)

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