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The Ending Of Ninja Assassin Explained

There's one directing duo in Hollywood synonymous with high-flying action flicks, and that's the Wachowskis. When the Wachowski sisters sign on to a project, you know it's going to be backed with wild visuals and more than a handful of intense action scenes. There are plenty of projects the Wachowskis have never gotten to make, but martial arts fans can rejoice that "Ninja Assassin" isn't one of them, as they were able to produce this 2009 film directed by James McTeigue.

Though the movie's lackluster reviews keep it from being a true martial arts hidden gem, "Ninja Assassin" still has more than enough weapons, fisticuffs, and blood to keep fans of the genre entertained. Rather than opting for a renowned but underappreciated martial arts actor, the team behind the film tapped South Korean pop star Rain for the lead role. Raizo is an ex-member of the Ozunu ninja clan, and he's on a quest for revenge against the family that raised him.

Between frequent flashbacks, flashy fight scenes, and as much CGI blood as '09 special effects could render, there's plenty to distract from the movie's conspiracy-laden plotline. Not to worry, however. If the ending of "Ninja Assassin" left you out in the cold, you can catch up on everything that happened here.

Why didn't Raizo leave with Kiriko?

"Ninja Assassin" doesn't spend a huge amount of time fleshing out its characters, but the movie does dive into the past of its protagonist Raizo. Throughout most of the film, Raizo is on a quest for revenge against the Ozunu Clan, and flashbacks help explain why he has come to hate them so much.

Raizo was a young orphan when the Ozunu Clan took him in and began putting him through rigorous training. Being adopted by the clan saved Raizo from living on his own, but it didn't guarantee him an easy life. Lord Ozunu personally pushed Raizo to his physical limits and used violence and threats to shape the boy into a killing machine. Raizo's only moments of peace came from Kiriko, another orphan who openly disobeyed Lord Ozunu's rules and tried to follow a more caring and empathetic path in life.

Eventually, Kiriko decides that she needs to leave the clan. When she invites Raizo to come with her, he refuses despite the bond they've formed. Thanks to his relationship with Kiriko, Raizo has already begun to question the Ozunu philosophy. Still, a mixture of the clan's conditioning and his fear of the outside world — a world that didn't care about him when he was on his own — prevent him from leaving with Kiriko. Maybe if he had, she would have survived.

Why did Raizo wait so long before betraying the clan?

The Ozunu Clan captures Kiriko not long after she leaves for the outside world. Defectors not only threaten the clan's secrecy, but they also have the potential to inspire other orphans who might consider pursuing a life on their own. Lord Ozunu can't tolerate weakness spreading through his clan's ranks, so he orders Takeshi to stab Kiriko in the heart in front of the other trainees.

Kiriko's death is what finally breaks Raizo's attachment to Lord Ozunu and the other ninjas. It's the moment that inspires his need for revenge and kicks off the rest of the story, although it's not actually the moment that Raizo turns his back on the clan. Instead, he spends several more years training alongside his adopted family. It's not until Raizo is assigned his first assassination that he finally makes a move against Lord Ozunu.

The movie doesn't spend time explaining Raizo's reasons for staying with the clan, and it glosses over the years he must have spent planning his revenge in favor of diving straight into the action. Even though Raizo's loyalty to Lord Ozunu broke the day he ordered Kiriko's murder, he must have realized that taking advantage of the Ozunu training would be his best shot at actually taking apart the clan. He uses the Ozunu's secrets against them and comes out on top because of his patience.

What was the Ozunu Clan's real mission?

Raizo's big mission in "Ninja Assassin" is to stop the Ozunu Clan at every turn while waiting for his opportunity to finally kill Takeshi and Lord Ozunu, the pair responsible for Kiriko's death. When it comes to uncovering the Ozunu Clan's mission, however, the movie changes focus and follows Europol agent Mika Coretti.

Mika has spent some time investigating what appears to be a series of murder-for-hire cases, and the movie gets going just as she ties those murders together and links them to the Ozunu Clan. She discovers that the clan has been killing for the highest bidder while taking out criminal and political opponents alike. It appears that the Ozunu Clan has been using its time and resources to rake in as much money as possible.

In this case, appearances aren't deceiving, though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. It seems strange that a clan of pseudo-magical ninjas would be motivated by something as mundane as money, but if Lord Ozunu has a more sinister plan in the works, then "Ninja Assassin" isn't interested in delving into it. The movie is hyper-focused on Raizo, and he couldn't care less what the Ozunu Clan wants as long as he can stop them.

How disruptive was Raizo's betrayal really?

Kiriko's murder clearly illustrates that Lord Ozunu doesn't accept betrayal. He sees it as a sign of weakness, which is something that he truly hates and refuses to tolerate in the ranks of his ninja clan. He was willing to murder a child who wanted to leave the clan, so Raizo's betrayal must make him blind with rage.

It seems safe to say that by the time a ninja completes their Ozunu training, their loyalty to the clan has been firmly secured. There are only so many years of brutal training and careful brainwashing a person can withstand. As a result, Raizo might be the only traitor to ever successfully leave the Ozunu ranks, and he manages to go even further by actively disrupting the Ozunu Clan's plans after he leaves.

In retrospect, Raizo's betrayal marks the beginning of the end for the Ozunu Clan. He takes the clan's secrets out into the world and eventually helps Mika expose them to Europol. Lord Ozunu definitely takes the betrayal seriously, but he probably doesn't anticipate Raizo being able to truly destroy the clan once and for all. For all his talk against weakness, Lord Ozunu's overconfidence ends up undoing everything he's built.

Why was no one else willing to turn on the clan?

Considering how Lord Ozunu treats the ninja trainees, were Raizo and Kiriko really the only two people willing to turn their back on the Ozunu Clan? Of course, it's possible that there are other traitors who simply end up stabbed through the heart, just like Kiriko, but the movie doesn't make reference to any of them — if they even exist.

There's a strong possibility that Lord Ozunu's indoctrination methods are simply effective enough that no one has ever thought to turn against him. He picks orphans as trainees not just because it's easy to make them disappear but because it's easier for him to inspire loyalty in children who desperately want a family. Lord Ozunu convinces the children that the clan is their only lifeline, and they're willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto that.

It's also possible that Raizo was destined to almost single-handedly tear down the clan. Kiriko tells Raizo that he has a special heart, and maybe that statement means even more than she realizes. There's certainly a magical element at play in "Ninja Assassin," so bringing in an element of fate doesn't seem like too big of a leap.

How did Raizo heal his wounds?

"Ninja Assassin" asks its audiences to suspend quite a bit of disbelief. Anyone who wants to sit back and enjoy the movie needs to be willing to get on board with a secret group that kidnaps orphans as trainees, the existence of ninjas so skilled they're practically unstoppable, and global conspiracies that hide the existence of an assassination supergroup.

Just as audiences have made peace with the world being presented to them, the movie throws out a curveball about three-quarters of the way through its runtime. After being seriously injured and kidnapped by the Ozunu Clan, Raizo heals his wounds seemingly by magic. With a bit of chanting and some complicated hand movements, Raizo's cuts seal themselves up, and he returns to peak fighting form.

For some viewers, this might be one step too far, but for others, it presents an exciting new twist on the world of "Ninja Assassin." The Ozunu Clan aren't so fearsome just because they are masters of the physical world but also because they have access to some level of supernatural abilities. Whether those abilities are healing wounds like Raizo's or disappearing into the shadows like Lord Ozunu during his final fight, there seem to be some skills known by the clan that elevates them to an inhuman threat level.

How did Lord Ozunu lose his fight with Raizo?

Lord Ozunu is a master ninja who teaches the members of his clan everything they know. He collects orphans for his training program and builds a ninja army so fearsome it becomes the go-to assassination force for the most powerful people on the planet. Lord Ozunu might be the most knowledgeable ninja in the clan, but Raizo proves that he isn't the strongest.

By the time Raizo and Lord Ozunu finally square off, the two have known each other for decades. It would be easy to say that Lord Ozunu loses the fight simply because he's not as strong as when he was younger, but thanks to the healing abilities the ninjas have, who's to say they even age at a normal rate? Throughout the battle, Lord Ozunu shows that he's a more technically proficient fighter than Raizo with his impeccable swordsmanship and by using into-the-shadows vanishing abilities.

Once again, however, it's Lord Ozunu's confidence that undermines his victory. Lord Ozunu thinks that he has enough control over Raizo that he will never be betrayed, and he is wrong. In their fight, Lord Ozunu thinks he's guaranteed to win, and he believes that Raizo can't possibly know how to do the disappearing trick himself. He's wrong on both counts, and Raizo wins by using that particular skill against his former master.

How deep does the Ozunu conspiracy go?

While doing her regular work for Europol, Mika discovers a thread of killings that are all linked to the Ozunu Clan. She comes to realize that the clan has been taking on assassinations, sometimes of high-level political figures, in exchange for incredible sums of money. The killings have been taking place all around the world, and it appears that Lord Ozunu hasn't been too picky about who hires his ninjas.

When Mika tells her boss Ryan Maslow about her theory, he warns her that she could be moving into very dangerous territory. There's no easy way to uncover everyone who's been hiring the Ozunu Clan, so there's a possibility that someone in the upper echelon of Europol is one of the clients. They could pay for the Ozunu to take out Mika and Ryan at any time.

Luckily, neither of the agents gets assassinated as part of a cover-up. Mika and Ryan are actually able to gather enough support to lead a full-on assault on the Ozunu Clan. That doesn't necessarily mean no one at Europol has worked with the Ozunu Clan, however. It's more likely that the ninjas were useful tools for the world's political elite, who all have access to other assassins-for-hire now that the clan has been destroyed. The full extent of the assassination conspiracy is never actually revealed.

Will Raizo really be allowed to go free?

By the time credits roll on "Ninja Assassin," Raizo has killed Lord Ozunu and put a permanent end to the clan. At the end of the movie, Raizo stands on the wall that Kiriko once used to escape and looks out at the world, imagining his new life of freedom.

Raizo's mission is complete, but Europol's has just begun. Their battle with the Ozunu Clan must have brought some major attention to the organization, and it's almost guaranteed that once they clear out the ninja training compound, they will find new evidence of the assassination conspiracy that had been at play. For the people at Europol, Raizo's victory is just the beginning of what will be a long and grueling investigation into everything that has happened.

Europol's investigation might get in the way of Raizo's freedom. He's a key witness in the case and has insider knowledge of the Ozunu Clan that Europol might not be able to get anywhere else. Not only that, but Europol also has clear evidence of Raizo committing murder. He might have been fighting the bad guys, but Europol will still need to address his crimes. The true ending of "Ninja Assassin" might not be as cheery as it seems.

What will happen to the remnants of the Ozunu Clan?

The Ozunu Clan suffers some serious losses in its battle with Europol. Takeshi and Lord Ozunu have both been killed, along with who knows how many other ninjas. Europol and Raizo kill a massive part of the clan, but they couldn't have gotten every single member.

Moving forward, Europol will need to investigate everything that the clan has done, and they will undoubtedly capture a few prisoners to interrogate and even prosecute for the clan's crimes. A sizable portion of the Ozunu Clan can look forward to spending the next several years, if not the rest of their lives, behind bars. Of course, whether that's a worse fate for the ninjas or for the people who are locked in prison alongside them is up for debate.

On the other hand, capturing these highly trained ninjas is no small feat. When it becomes obvious that the clan is going to lose the battle, there is a good chance some members of the Ozunu decide to run. Their training has given them all the skills they will need to avoid the authorities, even if it hasn't taught them how to lead normal lives in the outside world. Maybe some of the ninjas will try to abandon their history and lead another life. Maybe others will continue hiring out their services to the highest bidder. The clan has been disbanded, but the skills the ninjas have learned will stay with them for a lifetime.

What will Raizo do next?

"Ninja Assassin" doesn't shoehorn in any cheeky nods to a sequel, but there's absolutely enough detail in its world to fill up another story. The history of ninjutsu and the Ozunu Clan is begging to be explored, but fans of the movie would probably be even more interested in seeing Raizo's future.

If Raizo cooperates with Europol, it's easy to imagine him spending the next few years of his life tracking down the ninjas who escaped the battle at the end of "Ninja Assassin." He and Mika might travel the world looking for any Ozunu trainees who decided to continue working as assassins. Along the way, Raizo will continue his training, and it's possible that he'll even learn new semi-magical skills that even Lord Ozunu never knew.

The other possibility is that Europol wants to take Raizo in, and he instead goes on the run. He'll get to use all the skills he acquired while working against the Ozunu Clan to defend himself from the organization and any other world governments it asks for assistance. Along the way, it seems likely some stray Ozunu Clan members will come on a revenge quest of their own, hunting Raizo down for what he did to their family. "Ninja Assassin" never got a sequel, but its story is still far from over.