A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of The Blind Side in the mail. I don’t get very many DVDs, and when I do get a DVD it is almost exclusively by specifically requesting it. So The Blind Side took me…BY THE BLIND SIDE! (Ooof. My apologies, as always, for everything.) I couldn’t remember asking anyone for it, and why would I? I had no interest in seeing it, as I had assumed (not entirely incorrectly) that The Blind Side was a mediocre middle-of-the-road Lifetime movie for which Sandra Bullock certainly didn’t deserve an Oscar, and whose unexpected success at the box office was simply further proof that American society was on the decline. I had assumed (not entirely incorrectly) that it was the dramatic equivalent of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. But here it was. Did I want to make fun of it? Is that why I (must have) requested it? That didn’t seem right. Even my yuck-em-ups have their limits of exhaustion. Huh. I didn’t know what it was doing here! WHAT A FABULOUS MYSTERY. We would probably never solve it, not without Ben Gates‘s help.
And then that evening I received an email that explained everything:
Subject: Ninja Assassin/The Blind Side Mail Mix-up
It’s come to my attention that the mailing for Ninja Assassin DVDs was mixed up in shipping and many of you may have received copies of The Blind Side on DVD. Can you please email me and let me know whether you received Ninja Assassin or The Blind Side?
Aha! Mystery solved, and in hilarious fashion. At first this email made me LOL so much. What a comical mix-up! But then I actually sat down and watched both movies, and it turns out that maybe it wasn’t such a comical mix-up after all. You might be surprised at how similar these two movies are!
-Both Tell The Story Of Children Taken From Their Homes
In The Blind Side, Big Mike is taken in by Sandra Bullock and her family after they discover that he is homeless and sleeping at the school gym. With their help and guidance, which his own parents could never provide, Mike begins to improve his grades, and joins the football team, leading to a successful career in the NFL. In Ninja Assassin, Raizo is stolen from his family and raised by the Ozunu Clan. With the help and guidance of the clan, which for better or for worse his own parents could never have provided, Raizo becomes the deadliest ninja in the world. (Of course, Raizo eventually turns against the Ozunu Clan, whereas Big Mike remains a part of the Tuohy family. So I guess in some ways they are not the EXACT same movie.)
-Both Deal With Characters Confronting A Culture They Don’t Understand
In The Blind Side, the Tuohy family have their first encounter with the impoverished black community of Tennessee and are shocked at what they discover. In Ninja Assassin, the police have their first encounter with the murderous ninja clans, and they are shocked at what they discover. At least until they are killed.
-Big Mike And Raizo Both Reject Violence Until It Is Proven Necessary To Protect Someone They Love
When Big Mike first begins to play football, he is awful at it. Ultimately, he is a gentle giant who doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He shies away from hitting people because of his “protective instincts.” But then Sandra Bullock gives him a rousing pep talk in which she likens the football team to his family, and demands that he protect his family. With that in mind, Big Mike becomes one of the toughest players on the field. In Ninja Assassin, Raizo abandons the Ozunu Clan after they murder his childhood sweetheart, eschewing a life of pre-meditated violence for a solitary life of quiet contemplation. But when it becomes a matter of self-defense, and, more importantly protecting the young policewoman with whom he has developed a friendship, then Raizo will fight until the death. Duh.
-Both Feature Investigations That Are Completely Beside The Point
In The Blind Side, Big Mike eventually earns a scholarship to the Tuohy’s alma matter, Ole Miss. An investigator from the NCAA interrogates Mike to determine if the Tuohy’s generosity towards him was simply a cynical scheme to get a football player onto their favorite team. Tensions are high for about 30 seconds until Sandra Bullock just tells him to go to whatever school he wants to, and he ends up going to Ole Miss anyway, and I guess the case was dropped? It was a stupid case anyway. Meanwhile, in Ninja Assassin, some police detectives at Europol in Germany (Germany?) have uncovered the centuries old secret of the Ozunu Clan. They do investigate the ninja stuff, but it is really beside the point. This movie is about ninjas fighting ninjas.
-Both Have Scenes In Laundromats
-Both The Blind Side And Ninja Assassin Are Simplistic And Terribly Written
With very little attention paid to developing three-dimensional characters (Leigh Anne Tuohy is “tough as nails”, Raizo is “a ninja assassin”) and zero plot complexity (the dramatic conflict in The Blind Side appears to be if the Tuohy’s are going to end up loving Big Mike TOO much, and Ninja Assassin does not have a plot) both movies are equally thin and unambitious. Of course, this actually works for Ninja Assassin because it’s a cartoonish action movie and doesn’t require three-dimensional characters or plot complexity to succeed. All it requires are super sharp swords and a fistful of throwing stars. In the case of The Blind Side, the same laziness results in a cliche-ridden script written by a third-grader (which includes a scene in which a state-required aptitude test has found Big Mike to be deeply insufficient in learning skills but “in the 98th percentile in protective instincts,” whatever THAT means) leads to a cloyingly happy ending, ultimately leaving the viewer feeling bored and insulted. Apologize, The Blind Side!
-The Blind Side Had A Secretary Named Ninja Assassin, And Ninja Assassin Had A Secretary Named The Blind Side!
The movies have their differences, of course. Ninja Assassin is totally fun to watch, whereas The Blind Side is tedious. Ninja Assassin doesn’t claim to be anything that it isn’t, and relishes its role as a cartoonish action movie. The Blind Side, on the other hand, thinks that it is a serious and important drama but is really just a pretentious, puffed up afterschool special for intellectually lazy people. Ninja Assassin has lots of comic book violence, The Blind Side has lots of this kid being so annoying:
But mostly they are the exact same movie. Sometimes the similarities were almost spooky.
I rest my case.