One of the most prolific producers in Hollywood history, Joel Silver has helmed such blockbusters as The Matrix trilogy, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, V for Vendetta, Speed Racer and the upcoming Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr.
Silver met Korean rock star Rain when he was featured in Speed Racer. It was during that production the producer decided it was time for a new martial arts star – one of the 21st century, and Rain fit the bill, so Ninja Assassin was written for him.
The actor stars as Raizo, who has a child was taken from the streets and transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan. But when the clan murders his best friend, Raizo vanishes – that is, until he can exact his revenge against everyone in the clan.
This is a big action film, but it also has heart. Did you want to make sure that the back story worked?
The intention was to make the movie work and to make it an effective story. It’s a fun movie and, in the opening scene, you know what you’re going to see. It’s meant to have you have a good time. It’s designed as that type of picture. And, I think that the most important thing is, ‘Can Rain pull it off?’ and I think he did.
Did you ever have discussions about the level of violence?
When we started The Matrix and we did all the kung fu stuff in there, we crafted a new look at those kind of Eastern movies with a Western aesthetic. The guys who did our martial arts work on this movie worked with all the big masters.
They brought a crew in from all over the world to be the ninjas, with all different martial arts techniques and styles. It was meant to be grounded. It doesn’t have the fantasy and wire work that we’ve had before. It was a grounded, hard action, ninja movie.
Were you concerned about the tone of this film and making it more serious?
We wanted to make it that kind of action movie. There are a couple moments of levity in it, but the idea of the movie was to do a ninja film. That’s what we wanted to do, and commit to the idea of making a ninja film. There are no turtles in this. The last big ninja movie was a turtle movie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but I think that this movie is what it is meant to be.
Being a huge pop star, did Rain have any diva element at all?
You wouldn’t even know that that was in his life. He is so committed, so focused and he worked so hard.
There are some movies, like 300, that are made today, where there are a lot of guys with a lot of abs, and maybe all those were not all there originally, but were helped with CGI, as they’ve said.
This guy looks like that. That’s him, in all those shots of him. He had zero body fat. He was just completely focused and there. He is a great guy. He’s a sweet, smart, very talented and athletic guy.
Do you see potential for a sequel with this?
We made a deal with Rain to do another movie. I hope we get to do it, whether it’s a sequel or something else. If the audience responds and he has an audience there, then we should definitely make more films with him. I think he could be a big star.
Are you excited about Sherlock Holmes coming out in December?
Very excited. It’s really a sensational movie. People are going to start seeing it really soon, and I think there’s going to be a great response to it.
Are you hoping to make that into a franchise?
I would hope that it could be a franchise, sure. [Robert] Downey already has another franchise that he’s doing pretty well in, but Sherlock is a very different character than Tony Stark.
I think you get a chance to see him do something that is very different from what he does in the Iron Man pictures. He’s so good in it. He’s so good at everything he does, but he’s fantastic as Sherlock and I think the audience will buy him as this guy.
I think it’s a chance to make a really big movie.