Raizo (Rain) is one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them...and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge.
In Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has stumbled upon a money trail linking several political murders to an underground network of untraceable assassins from the Far East. Defying the orders of her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), Mika digs into top secret agency files to learn the truth behind the murders. Her investigation makes her a target, and the Ozunu Clan sends a team of killers led by the lethal Takeshi (Rick Yune), to silence her forever. Raizo saves Mika from her attackers, but he knows that the Clan will not rest until they are both eliminated. Now, entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse through the streets of Berlin, Raizo and Mika must trust one another if they hope to survive...and finally bring down the elusive Ozunu Clan.
"Ninja Assassin" is directed by James McTeigue from a screenplay by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski. The film stars Korean pop star Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Rick Yune and legendary martial arts performer Sho Kosugi. Joel Silver, Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski and Grant Hill are the film's producers, with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Steve Richards serving as executive producers.
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub, production designer Graham "Grace" Walker, editor Gian Ganziano, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Carlo Poggioli and composer Ilan Eshkeri.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment, a Silver Pictures Production in association with Anarchos Productions, "Ninja Assassin."
Opening nationwide on November 25, 2009, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
The film has been rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language. www.Ninja-Assassin-Movie.com
For downloadable general information and photos please visit: http://press.warnerbros.com
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Betrayal begets blood.
This is the law of the Nine Clans.
This is the way of the ninja.
They are the stuff of legend, but for their victims they are all too real. Their swords and shuriken fly fast and, in the blink of an eye, cut to the bone, creating a bloody spray in the wake of the blade. The masters of stealth and dealers of death, these specters strike without warning and strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. No one is safe. Ninjas are the special forces of the martial arts world, and director James McTeigue and producers Joel Silver, Andy and Larry Wachowski and Grant Hill wanted to bring them to the screen as never before.
States producer Silver, "We each felt that the pure martial arts film is a kind of a subgenre that hasn't really had its due in the U.S. We were always talking about doing something like taking the legend of the ninja, which dates back to the 14th century, and dropping this silent killer into a truly modern world."
The filmmakers wanted to utilize the classic ninja movie structure in which an enigmatic master schools select children to become unbelievable fighters or assassins, who people in the "real world" of the film believe to be a myth. That is, of course, until their two worlds intersect and the disbelievers witness these incredible martial artists in action.
"Ninjas were the shadowy characters who always came out of the darkness," says director McTeigue, who also recalls the influences of his upbringing in Australia. "We got anime from Japan and a lot of the TV serials as well, like 'The Samurai' and 'The Phantom Agents'-shows that had elements of the folkloric ninja in them, where the characters were raised in an orphanage or the like. For this film, we talked about those classic elements, but also adding an edgy film noir aspect to it."
"It's no secret that each of us, Larry and Andy in particular, has a strong affinity for Japanese storytelling and culture," offers producer Hill, "but how does the world of the ninja wrap itself around the 21st century?"
That became the job of screenwriters Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski, who were brought on board to pen the script.
"I trained in karate all through college, and the martial arts have been a big part of my life for a long time," says Sand. "So to get to write the kind of ninja movie I've always wanted to see was a dream come true."
"I've always loved the genre, but it seemed like no one had made a serious ninja movie in a long time, at least not in the West," notes Straczynski. "Ninjas have been used so often for comic relief that it felt as if no one was taking them seriously any longer. The chance to make a movie that presented ninjas as being scary as hell was very appealing," he smiles, "and working with the Wachowskis is always rewarding and intellectually daunting because they both have these 12-story brains and you really have to be on your toes to keep up with them."
The screenplay began to take shape. Says Sand, "It's an origin story. The orphanage-the idea of these ninjas being a family in a twisted, dark way-and one man, Raizo, coming to terms with a substitute father who was the most awful father imaginable. Where Raizo came from as a character is exactly what the ninja clans are all about. They made him. Motivated by a lost love, his reacting against them rather than becoming what they had in mind, along with the story of the agent investigating the clans, made it a different type of a ninja movie than we'd ever seen."
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.'"
Although Rain plays Raizo, the central role, the filmmakers knew that the real star of "Ninja Assassin" would be the stunning martial arts sequences, and to accomplish them they'd need the best. They called in legendary stunt choreographers Chad Stahelski and Dave Leitch-who've worked with the Wachowskis, Silver and Hill since "The Matrix" days and who got their start as stunt coordinators on McTeigue's "V for Vendetta"-to help devise a style of fighting that would speak to the kind of movie they wanted to make.
"For this film, we didn't want to rely on wire work, camera tricks or visual effects," states Silver. "We wanted the verisimilitude of seeing and believing what's happening right in front of you. Chad and Dave thought outside the box and wanted to bring in the best in the business-parkour and free runners, acrobats, and guys from Jackie Chan's stunt team. They all worked together to deliver unbelievable stunt sequences above and beyond what we imagined."
Wherever you are, wherever you may go, you must never forget who you are, how you came to be. You are Ozunu. You are a part of me as I am a part of you.
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."
Operating in the outside world, Raizo must stay one step ahead of the clan. But the murders are being investigated, and one researcher at Europol stumbles onto the notion of the nine ancient clans that have trained assassins-ninjas to perform murders for a fee: the price of a pound of gold. But she is getting too close, and she is now marked for death by the Ozunu clan. Raizo saves her life, and they are forced to go on the run together.
Naomie Harris plays agent Mika Coretti. "I just loved the character and felt a real connection with Mika," relates Harris. "She is different from any character I've played before. I really liked her passion and enthusiasm, and that she believes anything is possible, which is what I always believed as well. Like the fantastical is possible."
"Naomie absolutely got what we were trying to do," says McTeigue. "The character of Mika is really strong and Naomie saw that and completely took her on."
"Mika's investigating this bizarre myth, this legend, this rumor," says Sand. "Her obsession leads her into terrifying danger, but also leads her to the truth."
"Mika's work is really her entire life," says Harris. "So when she finds something, she is like a dog with a bone. She doesn't let go of it until she's worked everything out. She likes putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. She's found a lot of evidence to prove that ninjas exist, and she's not letting it go."
Mika's initial challenge is convincing her boss, Ryan Maslow, that she's onto something real. British actor Ben Miles, who plays the skeptical agent, says, "I play a kind of hardened cop. One of his young researchers, Mika, comes to him with a seemingly harebrained scheme about ninjas assassinating people now, in the 21st century. He tells her that she can't seriously think that some guys dressed in black with swords are going around knocking off these high-profile political figures. But Maslow doesn't always do things by the book; he has a bit of a maverick approach and may have his own plans, so he lets her go with it, and the movie takes on this suspenseful layer upon layer of who you can trust, who you can't trust, whose side should you be on. It's a great kind of clash of thriller, film noir and martial arts."
Miles, who first worked with McTeigue and the producers on "V for Vendetta," enjoyed working with his old friends again. "They have this verve and enthusiasm and a kind of unpredictability, so it was great fun on many levels. Plus getting to do all the action stuff, you can't beat it."
Through Mika's research, she helps Raizo find his way back to the source: the orphanage and his original master, Lord Ozunu. Legendary martial artist and famed ninja movie veteran Sho Kosugi -who has participated in more than 300 tournaments and numerous films, including six previous ninja movies- took on the role, which thrilled the filmmakers.
"If you've ever watched any ninja films from the 1980s, you know that Sho Kosugi is the ninja; he is the man," asserts McTeigue. "He was the only person who could impart the discipline of Lord Ozunu. He embodied the clan master." Of course, the actor was nothing like the character he played. "Every time he had to do something mean or aggressive, he did it, but as soon as I called 'Cut,' he'd say, 'Oh my gosh, he's a very bad man, that clan master!' And he'd start laughing and smiling."
Although he was playing a bad guy, Kosugi -who has studied martial arts since the age of five and who still practices about three hours daily- truly appreciated the thought that went into creating his character. "I was shocked when I saw the script, when I saw the name Ozunu, I smiled because what most people don't know is there was a real Ozunu, who was born in the Kinki District and is the ancestor of the Shugenja, mountain warriors who practiced Shugendo. He's an ancestor of the ninjutsu. So the research was so good. To play this role, I was honored to do that."
Ozunu's strongest weapon in the fight against Raizo and Europol is his protégé and Raizo's onetime "brother" in the clan, Takeshi, played by Korean-American actor Rick Yune. Yune has something of a martial arts background himself, having qualified for the Olympic Trials in Taekwondo, the national sport of Korea, when he was 19.
"Ozunu is a father figure to Takeshi, and he wants to emulate him, to stay loyal to him," offers Yune. "This is Takeshi's family and this is what he's been brought up to be. He is all the things that Raizo did not want to become." The actor found his way into the character by connecting with a phrase he found in the script. "It says that ninjas only kill two kinds of people: those they're paid to kill and those who get in their way. All he wants to do is be the best ninja possible, and to get closer to Ozunu, his so-called father. So he lives by this code in order to stay true to his family, to the clan."
Raizo's only real friend at the orphanage is Kiriko, played by Kylie Liya Goldstein as a young girl and Anna Sawai as a teen, who tries to convince Raizo that there is a better life outside the dojo and away from the clan. Her punishment for trying to escape becomes the catalyst for Raizo's eventual desertion.
In the film, Ozunu kidnaps children from around the world -ostensibly lost children who don't have families- and brings them into the clan, giving them a family. "What we did initially to find the children," reveals McTeigue, "was go out to a lot of dojos throughout Berlin, where we were going to be shooting. We then brought them in and trained them for a few months, and they became the other orphans who lived in the clan alongside young Raizo and young Takeshi as their brothers and sisters.
Being a part of that kind of family entails training, through a series of disciplines and over a number of years, to become a killing machine, an assassin who acts without a moment's hesitation.
Strength is the only virtue that nature respects. Hone your body. Sharpen your mind. Become the weapon you will need to survive.
In an attempt to revamp the ninja genre and make it as cinematic as possible, the martial arts performed in the film are a hybrid of several styles. To design the fight sequences, the filmmakers turned to their stunt partners from the "Matrix" films and "V for Vendetta," award-winning stuntmen Chad Stahelski and Dave Leitch, who run their own stunts and training company, 87Eleven. Both served as stunt coordinators as well as second unit directors on "Ninja Assassin."
"Part of the objective in making the film was to take it to another level, beyond what we'd all done before," says McTeigue. "To coalesce all the energies and the disciplines we've had in other movies and bring them into one required a certain level of knowledge and skill, and that's what Chad and Dave deliver every time. They know that stuff inside and out."
"There's definitely a shorthand between Larry, Andy, Joel, James and Chad and Dave," observes Hill. "They each have a broad knowledge of the others' functions, how they think, and a methodology in common that makes it easy to work together. But at the same time, they all have their own strong, creative ideas to bring to the party."
Because the prowess of a ninja fighter should be beyond the skills of any ordinary martial artist, the filmmakers wanted to bring together a unique blend of martial arts and other physical disciplines to take those skills to new heights. Leitch notes, "Ninjutsu, a Japanese style of martial arts, is the main ingredient. However, we incorporated elements of Chinese Wushu, an acrobatic type of kung-fu, as well as Krabi-Krabong, a Thai style of sword fighting. We also used a new acrobatic style of sport karate called tricking, and a Filipino martial art called KALI, taught to us by legendary martial artist Dan Inosanto."
Pointing to various influences such as Chuck Norris in "Good Guys Wear Black" and "Breaker Breaker," Jackie Chan's work with Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon" and, of course, Sho Kosugi and Franco Nero in "Enter the Ninja," Leitch continues, "I don't think we wanted it to be realistic at all. We wanted it to be over the top. One of our biggest influences for this film, conceptually, was "Ninja Scroll," so when you see blood bubbling up out of a guy's chest, well...it's a visual style. That's what we were going for."
Once McTeigue, Stahelski and Leitch all agreed that they wanted live action stunt work, with no camera tricks, the choreographers invited a wide variety of "stunt" performers to join in the fun. Says Leitch, "In order to achieve what we wanted, we sought out some younger guys that had really specific skills. Their participation allowed us to get away from the wire-assist standard and to make the stunts about real acrobatics. That was something we always wanted to do."
Stahelski relates, "The wire work is very different on this film from what we did, for example, in 'The Matrix.' Our goal was to remove the supernatural element from the wires, remove all 'float,' and focus on human performance. Most of the wires used in the film were just for safety, or for very slight assist. The stunts and martial arts are real, we hired the best."
Each artist brought extraordinary skills to the film; among them were Damien Walters, a five-time world power tumbling champion from England; Jackson Spidell, famous for his loopkicks and his acrobatic martial arts skills all over America; Jon Valera, a five-time forms champion; Kim Do Nguyen, a World/U.S. forms champion and acrobatic martial arts competitor; Jonathan Eusebio, a former instructor at the Inosanto Academy and one of the better choreographers in Los Angeles; Brad Allan, one of Jackie Chan's lead team members; Peng Zhang, Jet Li's stunt double and an up-andcoming choreographer from China; Hyun Jin Park, another of Chan's team members and one of the better stuntmen in Korea; and Xiang Gao, a member of Donnie Yen's stunt team. "And of course we had our team from 87Eleven, our action design company," says Stahelski, "who are all specifically trained in acrobatic martial art choreography. It was an awesome lineup."
Leitch adds, "We also had Noon Orsatti as a stunt coordinator on the film. He is one of our mentors in stunt coordinating and we asked him to come on board to help organize everything. And we had Jim Churchman, our rigger who has done a lot of big shows and can do both the simplest rigs as well as be really innovative and progressive."
One of the most progressive decisions the filmmakers and stunt choreographers made was to go beyond martial arts. Explains Stahelski, "We incorporated parkour - a discipline of motion, of getting from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible, whether it's under, around or in a direct line over an obstacle like a wall or a fence-and free running, which is the essence of parkour but with more acrobatics and showmanship. Richard King is an L.A. stuntman who started Team Tempest, which is probably the best free running/parkour team in the States. Rich helped us choreograph some of the sequences."
They turned to parkour and free running because "we wanted the ninjas to move a little differently," continues Stahelski. "Not to just run across the shadows, but to swarm or infest whatever location they happened to be in. They were going to be very athletic, very cat-like."
The filmmakers put these newer action arts to the test in a sequence involving a martial arts fight in the middle of traffic. In the scene, shot in a traffic circle in Berlin, they used cars and vehicles as the obstacles coming right at the ninjas, who would then hop, flip or jump over them.
Surrounded by some of the best of the best in the martial arts world as well as top form athletes, Rain also needed to engage in an intense training regimen so he could appear to be a ninja trained from childhood. His performance impressed them. "Rain can mimic the action and then put a little emotion into it-he could act within the action," offers Stahelski. "I think he picked things up faster than anybody we've ever worked with. He had good physical aptitude, but he also had a great mental capacity for the action, which I think is even more important."
"Rain has amazing discipline," admires McTeigue. "You can show him something once, even very complicated choreography, and he remembers it almost immediately. Show it to him a second time and then he's able to add his own style to the choreography you showed him. There were days when he had to learn 25 moves and shoot them in one shot. His performance was well beyond what we even imagined."
Stahelski concurs. "As he went through the training, Rain kept getting better, so we had to keep re-choreographing. What we had designed originally, he outgrew by the time we were ready to shoot. The more Rain's abilities developed, the more our choreography had to evolve."
"I trained for six hours a day for six months," recalls Rain. "Five hours on martial arts and one hour on total body fitness. Their system is amazing. It's not just about lifting weights and cutting out chocolate. It combines a re-growth diet and a lot of core strength building. It's about the entire body, inside and out, not just single muscle building. It was hard, but it was incredibly rewarding."
The actor completely transformed himself. "I'm absolutely sure people won't believe that it's his body on screen. They'll think we digitally altered him," McTeigue laughs, going on to say that during filming his star "joked about the idea that, on the day that we wrapped, he would just eat noodles and drink beer and smoke cigars."
Rain's training regimen also included extensive weapons work. "We worked chains, single and double swords and shuriken, which are known as throwing stars," the actor states, "and I had to learn to use them with force, and while doing jumps and rolls. Very difficult stuff, but I enjoyed it."
The amount of training was necessary considering the beating Rain's character, Raizo, would have to take. Says Leitch, "It's hard to show everybody else suffer if you don't show your hero suffer. I think if you see the ninjas, all the blood and the sheer visceral imagery that we put into it, when you see Raizo, you buy it a little bit more. They suffer, he suffers. He doesn't go through an entire 15-minute battle and come out with a fat lip."
Raizo isn't the only character that gets roughed up in "Ninja Assassin," and Stahelski and Leitch, self-confessed martial arts nerds, were more than a little excited to work with Sho Kosugi as Lord Ozunu. "We're both huge fans," says Stahelski. "He's a master martial artist. I remember the first day he came to our training facility in Berlin, in his sweat suit, with a bag of practice swords. He was in fantastic shape, warmed right up, jumped right in. We thought we were going to have an easy day with him, since he was right off the plane. But he didn't want to stop. He was there for a solid two hours with us, and then was in the gym every day with us after that. His dedication to the craft was extraordinary."
"I've been studying martial arts since I was five years old," offers Kosugi. "Physically, it's easy to teach, but mentally...that's where it's very tough."
He travels with a group of orphans that are being taken from a city devastated by war to the Shido of the Ozunu clan. The people of the surrounding province refer to the Shido as "The Orphanage."
"Ninja Assassin" unfolds primarily in Germany, with a few scenes in Japan. Filming took place entirely in Berlin, but the filmmakers tried to give it an overall international flavor, with the help of production designer Graham "Grace" Walker.
Walker, who has worked with Silver on a number of films, also has a fan in his director. Says McTeigue, "When I was growing up in Australia, Grace Walker was really one of the icons of Australian filmmaking."
This was McTeigue's first opportunity to work with Walker, who says of McTeigue, "James was fabulous-extremely particular about what he wanted but that was great because it kept me on my toes, and I knew I was giving him exactly what he visualized."
That was especially true of one of the film's major set pieces. "The orphanage set he designed, which is one of our largest, is really one of the greatest sets I've worked on," acknowledges McTeigue.
"I've always appreciated Japanese architecture," says Walker. "It's just so simple yet so beautiful. One of the things I like most about it is the fineness of the screens and grills, the intricate designs. I also love an open plan and that's something the Japanese do extremely well. We built the dojo so we'd get that feeling of being inside and outside at the same time."
One of the challenges Walker faced in the dojo -the film's "orphanage"- was specific to a critical moment in young Raizo's training in the film: the nightingale floor. "The nightingale floor is designed to squeak when you walk on a certain board, to let you know of an enemy approaching," explains Walker. "James wanted it to be intricate, so we built it out of about 3,000 pieces of different-colored plywood put together like a puzzle."
The director wasn't the only filmmaker with specific requests for the dojo. "Larry and Andy wanted the artwork to appear to be from the earliest days of the ninjas in the 14th century," says Walker. "Funnily enough, the old text that I found looked really good, but no one could translate it for me, no matter how many Japanese-speaking people we found in Berlin. They said the writing was all too ancient. We felt safe putting it in, but I hope it's not saying anything we wouldn't want it to!" he grins.
The extensive dojo set also featured a bonsai garden that had to be furnished with trees that would appear to have been there for hundreds of years. Says Walker, "We hand-picked everything for the garden from a large nursery outside of Berlin, and hired a gardener to look after them. After the movie, everything went back, they were just on loan."
While investigating the required flora for the shoot, Walker also discovered an interesting city requirement. "In Berlin, you're only allowed to dig down one meter when planting. So anything that didn't fit, we had to mound up around it." Explaining the unusual regulation, Walker offers, "There's still a scare that there could be landmines around, so that's the law."
Not every set was built from the ground up. The safe house, where one of the bigger fight sequences takes place, required the designer and his team to transform an existing building. "The safe house was an old, empty power station," Walker relates. "The ninjas had to have things to run and jump and leap about on, so I came up with the idea of partially refitting it again with parts, air conditioning, all of that sort of stuff."
Moving to the exteriors, "Berlin provided the sort of film noir aspect that we wanted," states McTeigue. "I was interested in showing Berlin because it is a very filmic city."
The city offered exactly what the cast and crew needed for one of the film's key stunt sequences. Notes Silver, "There's a great scene in a traffic circle in the middle of Berlin, near the Freedom Tower and the Brandenburg Gate."
Due to the time of year, however, they only had about four-and-one-half hours of nighttime to get what they needed. But that didn't deter the production team. Silver continues, "We got right to it and shot ninjas jumping on top of and around and over the cars, fighting the whole time. I'd never seen anything like it before; it was a really fresh and exciting sequence."
- I have reason to believe that a group
of ninja may be on their way here.
- I think these gentlemen can handle a
few whack-jobs wearing pajamas.
The filmmakers knew that a key component in presenting ninjas in a modern context was the look, and enlisted the talents of costume designer Carlo Poggioli. "Carlo was great," says McTeigue. "He was another person who got what we were trying to do. We wanted the ninja costumes to be simple but textural. If you're going for the feeling of terror, with people emerging from the blackness, you need something that can dissolve into the shadows but, when they do appear and it's black on black, have some sort of texture. They're not just amorphous shapes that come out and you never really see anything."
Because ninjas, and therefore their costumes, date back several centuries, the challenge was in keeping with the simplicity of the original design, but updating it enough to suit the needs of the film and its setting. "I was lucky because I had done a movie two years ago with many scenes in Japan," relates Poggioli. "I had already done research about samurai, about this strange world. For this movie, I started to study the ninja world, and a friend of mine in Japan sent me reference from the ninja museum. James was very happy when I showed him some really special things that you cannot find in books."
One of the designer's initial hurdles was updating centuries of tradition in a way that would provide both the right look with the flexibility required for all the stunts. "Getting the right shape was hard," says Poggioli. "Our ninjas are modern ninjas, but Japanese tradition requires a certain silhouette. The shape of the body, the arm pieces, the belt, the shoes." The shoes were particularly tough to create. "To understand what was going to work, we had so many different soles. They had to be able to run up walls and so many other things, and still look right to the eye."
Dressing the film's lead posed an unexpected snag, remembers Poggioli. "When we fit Rain the first time, he had one body. When he came for filming, his body was completely different. He changed everything, his muscles, his figure. In the end, we had to make his clothes a lot bigger."
Due to the number of stunts, Poggioli and his team initially planned to make between 12 and 20 ninja costumes, but wound up creating about 200. "We used so many, probably 100, just for the scenes with blood," he says. In addition, all of the fabric was hand-dyed. "The ninjas were dressed in black, but to obtain the right color, it was not completely black; it's violet inside, which then gave us the black we needed."
Says McTeigue, "Ninjas should be able to move, unseen, through the shadows, which adds to their mystique."
You can call them spooks, or assassins, or whatever you want if it makes you feel better, but they're out there. They're killing people and nobody is doing a thing to stop them.
"Is it nature that makes you the person you are, or is it nurture?" director James McTeigue poses the question, a central theme of "Ninja Assassin." "I feel as though we did what we set out to do and made a modern-day ninja film that has incredible action but is also grounded in great characterization."
Rain agrees. "The film blends a great story with a lot of depth and feeling, with some of the most spectacular, awesome action sequences. The guys who made this movie make great action, and this is no exception."
Says producer Grant Hill, "I think 'Ninja Assassin' will grab audiences' attention from the very first scene. It's a film that gets going quickly, and just keeps going."
Producer Joel Silver elaborates, "It's a fun, although bloody experience, but it also has themes of loyalty, honor and identity. For fans of the genre, it's a pure ninja movie -gritty and violent, with every kind of fighting, every type of martial arts you've ever seen, and some you haven't. It's a real kick-ass movie."
ABOUT THE CAST
RAIN (Raizo) made his US feature film debut as a race car driver in "Speed Racer," under the direction of the Wachowski brothers and the film's second unit director, James McTeigue, all of whom reunite on "Ninja Assassin." Rain, a top Korean R&B/pop singer, was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World in 2006; in 2007 People Magazine included him in their annual Most Beautiful People issue. After debuting with the 2002 album Rain, which spawned the hit single "Bad Guy," Rain starred in the 2003 drama series "Sang Doo! Let's Go To School." His second album, How to Avoid the Sun, followed, and scored a hit single with the title track. He subsequently starred in the 2004 drama series "Full House," which became one of the highest-rated Korean dramas of all time, enjoyed broadcast exposure in many countries and brought him the Best Actor Award at that year's KBS Acting Awards. While shooting the 2005 miniseries "A Love to Kill," Rain's headstrong approach to the challenging role made him a more versatile actor. Rain's third album, It's Raining, sold over one million copies in Asia, making it his most successful album to date both domestically and internationally, and the subsequent "Rainy Day" concert tour was a success in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan and the United States, featuring two shows at New York City's Madison Square Garden. Rain's World, the performer's fourth album, was released in 2006 and led to the highly acclaimed "Rain's Coming" World Tour. In 2005, Rain became the first Asian performing artist invited to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards. His other music industry honors include the MTV Asia Grand Slam. He was named Favorite Korean Artist at the 2005 MTV Asia Aid, held in Bangkok, and won the Most Popular Asian Artist Award from Channel [V] Thailand, as well as the Best Buzz Asia Award at the 2005 MTV Japan Video Music Awards and the Best Korean Singer Award at the MTV-CCTV Mandarin Music Honors in Beijing. Rain made his feature film debut in "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK," directed by Chan-wook Park. The film and its director won the Alfred Bauer prize at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival and Rain was named Best New Actor at the 43rd Baeksang Arts Awards. In 2009, Rain was named Goodwill Ambassador by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, and serves as the Global Publicity Ambassador for the City of Seoul. Rain is currently traveling on a "Legend of Rainism" tour which will cover Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, and Las Vegas, to name a few locations.
NAOMIE HARRIS (Mika Coretti) was most recently seen in director David Ayer's "Street Kings," opposite Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker. Harris first burst onto the world's screens as the machete-wielding survivor in Danny Boyle's zombie horror film "28 Days Later," and gained a reputation as a versatile actress with roles as varied as Bronx agent Trudy Joplin in Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" and the voodoo Queen Tia Dalma in Gore Verbinski's "Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3." In 2007, Harris was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award. Harris starred opposite Colin Firth in Marc Evans' film "Trauma," and with Steve Coogan in Michael Winterbottom's "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story." She also starred with Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson in Brett Ratner's heist film "After the Sunset." Her other films include "Explicit Ills," directed by Mark Webber, and "August," with Josh Hartnett, directed by Austin Chick. She next returns to her indie roots in the upcoming "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll," and in 2010's "The First Grader," from director Justin Chadwick. On television, Harris gave critically acclaimed performances in the adaptation of Zadie Smith's "White Teeth," directed by Julian Jarrold for Channel 4 in the UK, and in Peter Kosminsky's BBC political drama "The Project." She was most recently seen in "Poppy Shakespeare," directed by Benjamin Ross, and will next be seen in David Attwood's drama "Blood and Oil" and John Alexander's "Small Island." Born and raised in London, Harris graduated with honors from Cambridge University, where she studied Social and Political Sciences before training professionally as an actress at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
BEN MILES (Agent Ryan Maslow) reteams with producers Joel Silver, Andy and Larry Wachowski and Grant Hill on "Ninja Assassin," having also starred in director James McTeigue's "V for Vendetta" and the Wachowski brothers' "Speed Racer." A prolific stage, film and television actor, Miles is perhaps best known to English audiences as Patrick Maitland in the BBC comedy series "Coupling," which aired from 2000-2004. His many other starring roles for television include the popular period drama miniseries "The Forsyte Saga," the highly acclaimed series "Prime Suspect," the TV movie "After Thomas" and, most recently, BBC's series "Lark Rise to Candleford." His feature film credits include director Mathias Ledoux's "Three Blind Mice," Charles Shyer's "The Affair of the Necklace" and Iain Softley's "The Wings of the Dove." Miles was born in Wimbeldon, London and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He made his debut on stage in the National Youth Theatre's "Chiefly Yourselves," and went on to appear in such Royal Shakespeare Company theatrical productions as "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet," "Have," and "Ispanka." For the National Theatre, he appeared in "The Cherry Orchard," "The London Cuckolds," "Mary Stuart," "Macbeth," "Trelawny of the Wells" and "Fuente Ovejuna." In 2007, he appeared at the Royal Court in the raw drama "My Child," and his credits at The Old Vic include "Richard II" and "The Norman Conquests." Miles made his Broadway debut in "The Norman Conquests" when the production transferred to Circle in the Square, where it went on to win the 2009 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, as well as three Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards, including one for Distinguished Ensemble.
RICK YUNE (Takeshi) is continually expanding his career with an array of critically acclaimed projects and box office successes. Last year, Yune starred in "The Fifth Commandment," a film he also wrote and produced. Also starring Dania Ramirez and Bokeem Woodbine, the feature chronicled an assassin, played by Yune, who refuses to carry out an assignment on a target. Yune also starred in Rob Cohen's hit action film "The Fast and the Furious" as Johnny Tran, and in the James Bond film "Die Another Day" as the diamond-scarred villain, Zao. Yune's acting debut in Scott Hicks' "Snow Falling on Cedars," with Ethan Hawke, received critical acclaim. Yune's other credits include television appearances on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Alias," and "Boston Legal," among others. A Washington, D.C., native, Yune's foray into acting came after a highly successful career outside of Hollywood. A graduate of University of Pennsylvania's prestigious The Wharton School and a former Wall Street trader, Yune made the career transition into entertainment at the height of his Wall Street success, focusing instead on his passion for acting and the entertainment industry. Beginning with a pioneering modeling career with Versace and Ralph Lauren's Polo Sport-becoming the first Asian-American model for either design house-he easily transitioned to acting. He has since received accolades from both film critics and fans, including a Best Villain Kid's Choice Award for "The Fast and the Furious," and has also been deemed a Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine in its annual special issue.
SHO KOSUGI (Lord Ozunu) is a legendary martial arts performer who made his mark in the 1980s and 1990s with a string of successful ninja films. The son of a Tokyo fisherman, the actor began his martial arts training at the age of five. Kosugi originally had a very weak body, but his parents forced their crying son to take karate at a local dojo, in order to make him stronger. He expanded his martial arts studies, learning judo, kendo, aikido, iaido, ninjutsu and taekwondo. By the age of 18, he had achieved the status of All-Japan Karate Champion. The following year, Kosugi left Japan for Los Angeles, where he earned a bachelors degree in economics at California State University. He continued competing in martial arts, winning an astonishing 663 trophies at karate tournaments around the United States, Canada, and Mexico between 1970 and 1975, as well as the Los Angeles Open in 1972, 1973 and 1974. Kosugi made his first foray into cinema with a minor part in a Taiwanese film, "Six Killers," followed by a role in a Korean production, "The Stranger from Korea" (a.k.a. "Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave"). For eight years, Kosugi worked continually as an extra in movies, sleeping only four or five hours a day and working five part-time jobs to support his family. His big break finally came in 1981 when he was cast as the evil ninja Hasegawa in "Enter the Ninja." The success of the film led to a series of other ninja movies, including "Revenge of the Ninja" and "Ninja III: The Domination," which firmly established Kosugi as a martial arts superstar with a loyal cult following. After a brief turn in a television action series called "The Master" in 1984, Kosugi continued starring in numerous martial arts films, including 3 more ninja movies: "9 Deaths of the Ninja," "Pray for Death", and "Rage of Honor", and as a secret agent in "Black Eagle" opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 1990, Kosugi returned to Japan, where he became involved in numerous martial arts television productions, and in 1991 he starred opposite Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee in a samurai epic for the big screen, "Journey of Honor." Considering it his greatest artistic triumph, Kosugi also co-wrote and produced the film, directed by Gordon Hessler and featuring a score performed by The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra. Kosugi remained very active in Japanese television productions, and was also involved in contributing martial arts choreography for the highly popular Sony PlayStation game "Tenchu: Stealth Assassins." Kosugi created the Sho Kosugi Institute in Hollywood to assist Asian actors wishing to break into the American film industry. He built a branch of the Sho Kosugi Institute in Tokyo as well, to teach manners, discipline and English to children ages three and up. Kosugi also set up a production company in Hollywood and Tokyo called Sho Kosugi Production Inc., with the goal of raising funds for future projects and to act as agent and distributor for his films. It was during this time of expansion that Kosugi also became an author in Japan, releasing his first of what would-thus far-total nine books: Sho Kosugi: The Man Who Achieved the American Dream.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
JAMES McTEIGUE (Director) has more than 20 years of experience in the film industry. He is next set to direct "The Raven," a fictionalized account of Edgar Allen Poe's final days. As a boy in Sydney, McTeigue was exposed to a variety of world cinema and television and was heavily influenced by ninja television shows like "Shintaro" and "Phantom Agents," and by films such as "Shinobi No Mono." He graduated from Sydney University, where he studied art and film. McTeigue made his directorial debut helming the iconoclastic screen adaptation of the graphic novel "V for Vendetta." McTeigue came to the project through his relationship with the Wachowski brothers, for whom he served as the assistant director on all three "Matrix" films. His other previous film credits as an assistant director include "Speed Racer" and "Dark City."
MATTHEW SAND (Story and Screenwriter) was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He was trained as an art historian, and spent many years working as an art dealer in Manhattan. Since moving to Hollywood and becoming a professional screenwriter, Sand has worked on more than a dozen projects, including the upcoming films "The Summoner," "American by Blood," "The Red Star," directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and Denzel Washington's WWII drama "Brothers in Arms."
J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI (Screenwriter) was recently nominated for a BAFTA Award for his screenplay for Clint Eastwood's critically acclaimed drama "Changeling," starring Angelina Jolie. He currently has several projects in development, including the sci-fi drama "World War Z," based on the Max Brooks novel, for director Marc Forster; "Shattered Union," a political thriller for producer Jerry Bruckheimer; "Forbidden Planet" for producer Joel Silver; and "Lensman," based on the novels from Edward E. Smith, for director Ron Howard. Straczynski was born in New Jersey but raised all across the United States, having moved more than 20 times in his first 17 years. He began selling articles and short stories by the time he graduated high school and spent the next 14 years as a journalist, writing for the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Magazine, Penthouse, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, the Los Angeles Reader and Time, Inc. In the course of that work he also picked up two bachelor degrees from San Diego State University in clinical psychology and sociology, with minors in literature and philosophy. In 1986, Straczynski jumped ship from journalism to television, starting first in animation and then moving on to write for such series as "The Twilight Zone"; "Murder, She Wrote"; "Jake and the Fatman"; "Babylon 5," for which he won two Hugo Awards, the Saturn Award and the Ray Bradbury Award; TNT's "Crusade"; Showtime Network's "Jeremiah"; and "Nightmare Classics," for which he received a Writers Guild Award nomination. He currently has a TV series in development with Ron Howard for Fox Network, "Phoenix Rising." For the last ten years, he has also been writing comics for Marvel Comics on such titles as The Amazing Spider-Man, for which he received the prestigious Eisner and Inkpot Lifetime Achievement Awards, The Fantastic Four, Thor and Silver Surfer: Requiem. He now also writes The Brave and the Bold for DC Comics.
JOEL SILVER (Producer), one of the most prolific and successful producers in the history of motion pictures, has produced over 50 films, including the groundbreaking "The Matrix" trilogy, the blockbuster four-part "Lethal Weapon" franchise, and the seminal action films "Die Hard" and "Predator." To date, Silver's catalog of films have earned more than $10 billion in worldwide revenue from all sources. Under his Silver Pictures banner, Silver produced the much-anticipated "Sherlock Holmes," directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams, set for a Christmas release; and the action adventure "The Book of Eli," starring Denzel Washington under the direction of Albert and Allen Hughes and due out January 2010. Silver structured a deal for his Dark Castle Entertainment production company that gives him green-lighting power and creative control of all films produced under the banner, to be released by Warner Bros. Dark Castle has a number of films upcoming, including the actioner "The Losers," based on the DC Comics graphic novels, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Chris Evans and Jason Patric; the thriller "Unknown White Male," starring Liam Neeson, January Jones and Diane Kruger; and the psychological thriller "The Factory," starring John Cusack. Dark Castle previously produced a string of hit films beginning with the record-breaking 1999 release of "House on Haunted Hill," followed by "Thir13en Ghosts" in 2001, "Ghost Ship" in 2002, "Gothika" in 2003 and "House of Wax" in 2005. Dark Castle more recently released Guy Ritchie's critically acclaimed actioner "RocknRolla," with an ensemble cast led by Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton and Mark Strong, and the horror thriller "Orphan," starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. Previously, Silver's 1999 production "The Matrix" grossed over $456 million globally, earning more than any other Warner Bros. Pictures film in the studio's history at the time of its release. Universally acclaimed for its innovative storytelling and visuals, "The Matrix" won four Academy Awards®, including Best Visual Effects. The first DVD release to sell one million units, "The Matrix" DVD was instrumental in powering the initial sale of consumer DVD machines. The second installment of the epic "Matrix" trilogy, "The Matrix Reloaded," earned over $739 million at the worldwide box office. The opening weekend box office receipts for "The Matrix Revolutions," the final chapter in the explosive trilogy, totaled a staggering $203 million worldwide. To date, "The Matrix" franchise has grossed $3 billion from all sources worldwide. While overseeing production on "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," Silver produced the integral video game "Enter the Matrix," which features one hour of additional film footage written and directed by the Wachowski brothers and starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Anthony Wong, who reprised their roles from the films. He also executive produced "The Animatrix," a groundbreaking collection of nine short anime films inspired by the visionary action and storytelling that power "The Matrix." Silver later produced the action thriller "V for Vendetta," based on the acclaimed graphic novel and starring Natalie Portman; the action comedy thriller "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," written and directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan; and the Wachowski brothers' "Speed Racer." He also produced the hit films "Romeo Must Die," starring Jet Li and Aaliyah; "Exit Wounds," starring Steven Seagal and DMX; and "Swordfish," starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry. A successful television producer as well, Silver executive produced the CBS series "Moonlight," a romantic thriller with a twist on the vampire legend, which won the People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama in its debut year. He was previously an executive producer on the critically acclaimed UPN television series "Veronica Mars," starring Kristen Bell. Silver also executive produced, with Richard Donner, David Giler, Walter Hill and Robert Zemeckis, eight seasons of the award-winning HBO series "Tales from the Crypt," as well as two "Tales from the Crypt" films. Silver began his career as an associate producer on "The Warriors," and then produced "48 HRS.," "Streets of Fire" and "Brewster's Millions." In 1985, Silver launched his Silver Pictures production banner with the breakout hit "Commando," followed by "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Predator." Silver Pictures solidified its status as one of the industry's leading production companies with the release of the "Lethal Weapon" series and the action blockbusters "Die Hard" and "Die Hard 2: Die Harder." Silver also went on to produce "The Last Boy Scout," "Demolition Man," "Richie Rich," "Executive Decision" and "Conspiracy Theory." Long before starting his producing career, as a student at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey in 1967, Silver and a group of his friends developed a game called Ultimate Frisbee. The fast-moving team sport has since become a global phenomenon supported by tournaments in 50 countries.
THE WACHOWSKI BROTHERS (Producers) were born and raised in Chicago and have been working together for more than 30 years. They most recently wrote, directed and produced the feature film "Speed Racer," based on the animated series, starring Emile Hirsch and featuring "Ninja Assassin" star Rain. Prior to that, they wrote and produced "V for Vendetta," directed by James McTeigue and starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. The Wachowskis also wrote, directed and executive produced "The Matrix" trilogy, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. In 1996, they wrote and directed their first feature film, "Bound," a thriller starring Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly and Joe Pantoliano.
GRANT HILL (Producer) recently served as producer on "Speed Racer" and "V for Vendetta," and executive producer and unit production manager on "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Previously, he produced Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" and was co-producer on James Cameron's "Titanic." Hill is currently producing Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and, in her feature film writing and directing debut, Madeline Stowe's "Unbound Captives," starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz and Robert Pattinson.
THOMAS TULL (Executive Producer) is the Chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures, a private equity-backed film production company with more than $1.5 billion in total financing. Legendary Pictures' current deal, through which it co-produces and cofinances films with Warner Bros. Pictures, runs through 2012. Since its inception in 2005, Legendary has joined with Warner Bros. to make such successful films as "Superman Returns"; "Batman Begins"; the blockbuster "300"; "Watchmen"; the record-breaking, award-winning film phenomenon "The Dark Knight," which has earned in excess of $1 billion worldwide; this past summer's runaway hit comedy from Todd Phillips, "The Hangover"; and the current box office hit "Where the Wild Things Are." Upcoming releases in the partnership include "Clash of the Titans," "Jonah Hex," "The Town," and Phillips' next comedic outing, "Due Date," all scheduled for a 2010 release; as well as "Jack the Giant Killer" and Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch," set for release in 2011. Legendary Pictures is also developing a number of film projects in-house, including "Paradise Lost"; "Warcraft," to be directed by Sam Raimi; "Kung Fu"; "Gears of War"; and "Gravel." Tull is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute (AFI) and the Board of Directors of Hamilton College, his alma mater. He serves on the Board of the Fulfillment Fund and is a board member of the San Diego Zoo. He is also a minority partner in the Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
JON JASHNI (Executive Producer) is the Chief Creative Officer of Legendary Pictures and is currently overseeing the development and production of such films as "Clash of the Titans," "The Town," "Gears of War," "Sucker Punch," "Warcraft," "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Gravel." He most recently served as executive producer on Todd Phillips' blockbuster hit "The Hangover" and Spike Jonze's box office hit "Where the Wild Things Are." Prior to joining Legendary, Jashni was President of Hyde Park Entertainment, a production and financing company with overall deals at 20th Century Fox, Disney and MGM. While there, he oversaw the development and production of "Shopgirl," "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," "Walking Tall" and "Premonition." Before joining Hyde Park in 2002, Jashni was a producer of director Andy Tennant's smash hit romantic comedy "Sweet Home Alabama." The film set the record for the highest-grossing September opening ever and went on to earn $140 million domestically. Jashni's collaboration with Andy Tennant began with the $100 million-grossing fairytale "Ever After," on which Jashni oversaw the development and production as a 20th Century Fox senior production executive. Jashni has co-produced two films that have received a total of three Academy Award® nominations. The critically acclaimed "The Hurricane" garnered a Best Actor nomination for its star, Denzel Washington, and "Anna and the King," directed by Andy Tennant, earned two nominations and grossed over $125 million worldwide. Earlier in his career, Jashni partnered with Irving Azoff in the Warner Bros. Pictures-based production company Giant Pictures. Their association resulted in the production of the aforementioned "The Hurricane," "Jack Frost" and "The Inkwell." Jashni joined with Azoff after a stint as a Columbia Pictures production executive, where he was involved in the development and production of such films as "Groundhog Day," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Mo' Money," "Stephen King's Sleepwalkers" and "Fools Rush In." Jashni began his career at Daniel Melnick's The IndieProd Company, where he was involved in the production of "Air America," "Mountains of the Moon," "Roxanne" and "Punchline."
STEVE RICHARDS (Executive Producer) is Co-President of Dark Castle Entertainment, and is in his fifteenth year working with producer Joel Silver. He was instrumental in developing the business plan for Dark Castle and in forging the financial partnership with CIT Group Inc., which will finance the production of 15 films over the next five years. Richards has served as executive producer on all of the films under the Dark Castle banner, including "The Hills Run Red" and the upcoming "The Factory." He is currently in development on the horror thriller "The Summoner" and the sci-fi actioner "Lobo," based on the DC Comics character. He was also executive producer on "RocknRolla," "The Reaping," "Thir13en Ghosts," "Ghost Ship," "Gothika," "House of Wax," "Orphan" and, most recently, "Whiteout." During the formation of Dark Castle in 1999, Richards organized the foreign financing and distribution of the shingle's first film, the remake of William Castle's "House on Haunted Hill." In 1995, Richards joined Silver Pictures and is currently Chief Operating Officer of the company. He counts among his film credits with Silver Pictures "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," "The Matrix Reloaded," "The Animatrix," and two installments of the "Dungeons & Dragons" fantasy game film adaptations. Additionally, upon joining Silver Pictures, Richards aided in the launch of Decade Pictures and served as executive producer on "Made Men" and as associate producer on "Double Tap." Richards began his career as a production executive for Tony and Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free.
KARL WALTER LINDENLAUB (Director of Photography) has established ongoing associations with several acclaimed filmmakers, serving as cinematographer/director of photography for such directors as Michael Caton-Jones, on the features "City by the Sea," "Rob Roy" and "The Jackal"; Wayne Wang, on "Because of Winn-Dixie" and "Maid in Manhattan"; Garry Marshall, on "Georgia Rule" and "The Princess Diaries"; and Jon Avnet, on "Red Corner" and "Up Close & Personal." Lindenlaub worked with fellow German Roland Emmerich as cinematographer on Emmerich's sci-fi epics "Independence Day" and "Stargate," as well as "Universal Soldier", "Moon 44," for which Lindenlaub won the German Camera Award for cinematography, "Ghost Chase," "Eye of the Storm," which Emmerich executive produced, and the telefilm "Altosax," which he co-wrote with Emmerich in 1980 while still a film student in Munich. Lindenlaub's additional feature credits include Jan de Bont's "The Haunting"; "The Banger Sisters," directed by Bob Dolman; Paul Verhoeven's World War II epic "Black Book"; and, most recently, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," directed by Andrew Adamson. He is currently shooting the crime drama "The Irishman," directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and due in 2010. Born in Bremen, Germany, Lindenlaub was raised in Hamburg. He studied his craft at Munich's Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film (Academy of Television & Film), one of Germany's two original film schools, before earning a scholarship to further his studies at England's renowned National Film and Television School.
GRAHAM "GRACE'' WALKER (Production Designer) counts "Ninja Assassin" as his sixth collaboration with Dark Castle Entertainment, having worked on the company's earlier releases "Whiteout," "The Reaping," "House of Wax," "Gothika" and "Ghost Ship." Walker won the Austrailian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Achievement in Production Design for "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior." He also earned AFI nominations for his production design work on Phillip Noyce's "Dead Calm," Dusan Makavejev's "The Coca-Cola Kid," and "The Chain Reaction." His additional film credits include "Queen of the Damned"; "Pitch Black," starring Vin Diesel; "The Island of Dr. Moreau," directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer; Peter Faiman's "Crocodile Dundee"; "The Sum of Us," starring Russell Crowe; George Miller's "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome"; and the action thriller "The Condemned."
GIAN GANZIANO (Editor) makes his debut as a live-action feature film editor on "Ninja Assassin." He began his career at FX house VIFX, where he was a visual effects editor for the company and worked on such films as "Titanic," "X-Files: The Movie," "Blade," "Volcano," "Face/Off" and "Batman Forever." In 1996, Ganziano helped start television's animated series "South Park," on which he was lead editor for the first three seasons. Additionally, he served as editorial consultant on the feature film "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut." Continuing with animated projects, Ganziano worked as co-editor on the feature "Lil' Pimp," and followed that as lead editor on DreamWorks' first foray into animated television programming, the series "Father of the Pride." Segueing back to live action feature projects, Ganziano next served as visual effects editor on HBO's acclaimed miniseries "Angels in America" and the features "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." His more recent credits include such films as "Racing Stripes," "Scary Movie 4," Mel Gibson's Oscar®-nominated "Apocalypto," and the Wachowski brothers' "Speed Racer."
JOSEPH JETT SALLY (Editor) makes his feature debut in the editing chair on "Ninja Assassin." He began his career as an assistant editor on such films as "Captain Ron," "Look Who's Talking Now," "Guarding Tess," "Jungle 2 Jungle," "Flubber," the new "Star Wars" trilogy and the Wachowski brothers' "Speed Racer." Sally collaborated with George Lucas on the 2004 release of "THX1138: The Director's Cut." For television, Sally co-edited the pilot for "Gideon's Crossing" and edited episodes of the family drama "Wildfire."
CARLO POGGIOLI (Costume Designer) has designed the costumes for such visually varied films as "Marquise," directed by Vera Belmont; Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain"; Stephen Sommers' "Van Helsing"; "The Brothers Grimm," directed by Terry Gilliam; "The Fine Art of Love: Mine-Haha," directed by John Irvin; and Andrzej Bartkowiak's "Doom." Last year, Poggioli won both a Genie Award and a Jutra Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for his work on François Girard's acclaimed romantic drama "Silk." His additional recent feature credits include the drama "Lesson 21," directed by Alessandro Baricco, and Spike Lee's dramatic thriller "Miracle at St. Anna." Poggioli's designs will next be seen on screen in the 14th century-set thriller "Season of the Witch," directed by Dominic Sena and starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, due in 2010. For television, his credits include the telefilms "Jason and the Argonauts" and director Uli Edel's "The Mists of Avalon," which earned Poggioli an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or Special. On the opera stage, Poggioli has collaborated with such artists as Liliana Cavani, Mauro Bolognini and Franco Zeffirelli. His credits include "Falstaff," directed by Ruggero Cappuccio with orchestral direction by Riccardo Muti, and "Nina ossia la pazza per amore," both at Teatro alla Scala Milano, and "Il ritorno di Don Calandrino," at Salzburg Opera Theatre. He has enjoyed a long artistic partnership with Marco Gandini, and created the costumes for Rossini's "La gazzetta," at Garsington Opera; Mascagni's "L'amico Fritz"; Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi," at Arena di Verona; and Marco Tutino's "La Lupa," at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. Poggioli's stage credits also include productions of plays directed by Luca Ronconi, including O'Neill's "Strange Interlude" and Giradoux's "La Folle de Chaillot." Poggioli studied stage and costume design at The Istituto D'Arte and The Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples. After graduation, he worked in Rome as assistant designer for such noted Italian costume designers as Gabriella Pescucci, Piero Tosi and Maurizio Millenotti, on such films as J.J. Annaud's "The Name of the Rose," Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," Federico Fellini's "The Voice of the Moon," Martin Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence" and Franco Zeffirelli's "Sparrow." He also worked alongside costume designer Ann Roth as her assistant on "The English Patient" and as associate designer for "The Talented Mr. Ripley," both directed by Anthony Minghella.
ILAN ESHKERI (Composer) is a British film composer known for his scores to "Stardust," "Layer Cake" and "Hannibal Rising," as well as his collaborations with Annie Lennox, Take That and David Gilmour. Born in London into a musical family, Eshkeri grew up playing violin and later took up guitar and played in bands. He studied music and English literature at Leeds University, and afterwards worked with one of film music's greats, Michael Kamen, learning first-hand the techniques of film composition. Eshkeri's first box office success was "Layer Cake," directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Daniel Craig, which earned Eshkeri a nomination for Discovery of the Year at the world soundtrack awards. Eshkeri's collaboration with Vaughn continued when he composed the Cue Award-winning score for "Stardust," starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes. Eshkeri also scored "Hannibal Rising," directed by Peter Webber and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Eshkeri most recently scored the highly anticipated historical romance "The Young Victoria," the dramatization of Queen Victoria's early reign directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Oscar® winner Julian Fellowes and with Emily Blunt starring as the young monarch. The film is set for U.S. release in December. Eshkeri also recently composed the music for "From Time to Time," a haunting ghost story starring Maggie Smith and Timothy Spall, which was written and directed by Fellowes. The film is based on Lucy M. Boston's novel The Chimneys of Green Knowe. Currently, Eshkeri is scoring Oscar®-winning producer Christian Colson's "Centurion." His additional upcoming projects include the dramas "The Kid" and Matthew Vaughn's "Kick-Ass," both due in 2010. Eshkeri has also collaborated with various songwriters. He worked with Annie Lennox, re-arranging some of her best known songs to critical acclaim, including "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Here Comes the Rain Again" for orchestra and band. He has been on tour supporting David Gilmour, and programmed strings on Gilmour's hit solo album On an Island. Eshkeri also co-wrote the hit single "Rule the World" with Take That, and most recently co-wrote the "Only You" for "The Young Victoria," which is performed by Sinéad O'Connor.