Director: Takashi Miike.
It’s Takashi Miike’s 100th Film, which is quite a feat with a career spanning a little over 25years. He’s been churning films out left, right and centre, best know for cult classics like Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassin’s, Visitor Q and The Audition. And for those of you familiar or fans of Miike, you’ll know what to expect.
The story is based on the Chanbara Manga created by Hiroaki Samura. Spanning 31 volumes from 1993 right up to 2012. Set during the Tokugawa shogunate, Manji an expert samurai (Kimura) is granted or issued a curse of immortality so he can seek revenge for the death of his sister, and the curse can only be lifted by slaying 1000 evil souls.
During his travels he promises to help a young girl who closely resembles his dead sister. Taking pity, he agrees to avenge the death of her family by taking on an equally skilled samurai, Anotsu and his horde of warriors; being his most challenging battle yet.
Not being familiar with the original source material, I can’t compare or comment and how well the film translates the manga. But from what I’ve heard, trying to condense the entire 31 volumes into a 140min film is quite an accomplishment and from what I can understand, each character has so much back story, each of them could warrant a movie each.
Miike’s style, as expected, lacks any great precision many samurai movies normal show off with, there’s no flair, it’s just brutal, sharp cinematography that keeps the action raw and often brutal. It’s an absolute gore fest with an uncountable body count, but that shouldn’t come unexpected to fans of either the manga or Miike.
But Miike manages to squeeze as much emotion into the bloodbath as possible. Kimura is amazing as the battle-torn and often grief-inflicted samurai that seems to be source of his rage. He’s often selfish but is pressured by an obligation to do the right thing and it’s more than just a tale of righteous redemption. I would say this is Japan’s Solomon Kane.
It’s not your typical samurai movie, but then again, what really define’s a samurai movie? It is however, a Takashi Miike film and will undoubtedly be added to his growing list of cult classics.
Running Time: 7
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 8
The Extra Bonus Point: 0