Crispy Gamer

Jones Goes To Screening of Ninja Assassin ; Enjoys Self (Mostly)

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My pal Victor Lucas and I went to a Ninja Assassin screening here in Vancouver last night. I don't enjoy going to the movies, mostly because I have an extremely large television at home and there are usually no people at home with me. Also: Cats make for great movie-watching companions. Also: The last time Teti, Narcisse and I saw Star Trek at the Ziegfield in New York, a guy threatened to kill me. No kidding. I had asked him and his son to please limit their chatter. His response: "DO NOT EVER TELL ME OR MY SON WHAT TO DO, NOW SIT YOUR ASS DOWN BEFORE I KILL YOU."

Memories.

Anyway, Vic had passes, so we waited in line and inhaled second-hand pot smoke in the rain--people smoke pot openly in B.C.--before the Screening Czars would allow us into the theater.

Once inside, we found ourselves seated next to a ballcap-wearing hoser-type and his guffawing pals.

Uh-oh, I thought. Here we go again.

A local radio station had laid out some exercise mats in the front of the theater. In the name of creating excitement/bloodlust from the audience, they trotted out some martial arts students from a local school to put on some demonstrations.

As the demonstrations wore on, and as the temperature in the overheated theater continue to rise, I leaned over to Vic and said, "That's it. I am never going to a screening again. This is horseshit."

Two of the MMA students got into a faux tussel, and when they went to the mat, the hoser-type barks out, "WHATCHA DOIN' NOW, MOUNTING HIM? HA HA HA HAAH AAHAA!"

He was clearly identified as "The Comic" of the group. His role: To shout obvious and unclever observations to his friends until he elicited weak laughs.

"OH NO HE'S MOUNTING HIM AGAIN!! HAA AAAAAA."

During the trailers, he continued to shout unfunny/unclever things. Honestly, if any of it had been remotely amusing, I'm not sure I would have minded it so much. But between his quips and listening to him noisily slurp on his paint-can sized cola, I was losing my patience.

Finally, just before the movie began, a warning screen went up warning people that if they filmed the movie they were about to see they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Or something like that.

"HEY EVERYBODY, GIVE ME A SECOND WHILE I GET OUT MY CAMERA TO START FILMING. H A AA HAAAAAAAA."

That's it.

I'd had it. I leaned across Vic and said, "Hey buddy, would you mind keeping it down?"

He looked at me in the dark. His eyes hidden beneath the brim of his knucklehead ballcap. "Dude," he said. "The movie hasn't even started yet."

I leaned towards him and gave him A LOOK. The Look says, I am an older gentleman in reasonable shape and I'm not afraid to get crazy, if that's what you want.

He looked at me. It was Look Vs. Look. All we needed was some Mortal Kombat music for our looks.

And that was that. My Look trumped his. Aside from a few totally acceptable cheers now and then, he calmed down.

Man.

I hate the fucking movies.

Biggest surprise of all: Ninja Assassin is actually pretty good. The opening three minutes is incredible. The whole thing unfolds in a fairly interesting and intelligent fashion. The third act is kind of a let-down, mostly because after 90 minutes of near constant kung-fu fights, you can feel the movie laboring to top itself...just...one...more...time. And the movie ends with a cornball groaner moment that will literally make the entire theater double over with groans.

The movie reminded me of Narcisse's terrific story on District 9, and also of the larger subject of how we've shifted--in a very tangible way--away from games being influenced by movies to movies being influenced by games. All I wanted to do after the game was go home and play the 360 version of Ninja Gaiden II (not the bloodless PS3 version) and make limbs rain from the sky.

Ninja Assassin's near-perfect Raizo is much more of a traditional videogame character than District 9's flawed Wikus, and therefore is much less interesting than Wikus. (His only flaw: To fall in love...from a great distance.) This movie is a long, long way from the exhausting, satisfying tour de force that District 9 was, but if you're even remotely interested in karate movies, or ninjas, go see it.

And if you see a bunch of dudes wearing ballcaps and spouting inane "zingers," sit someplace else.