Customer Reviews: Dororo
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VINE VOICEon September 28, 2008
This story of outcasts, demons, and a power-mongering warlord takes place during Japan's storied Warring States period and has been through manga and anime adaptations in the late 60's (now THAT is old school) but has just now gotten the big screen live-action treatment. 'Bout time. Two sequels are on the way as well so lovers of Asian and fantasy cinema must rejoice! This movie is a lot of fun to watch and although it is uneven at times -especially the special effects- it is highly recommended to fans of the genre.

"Dororo" is the story of a child whose body was sold to demons in exchange for power before his very birth. The monsters divided him up into 48 parts, one for each of them, and left him a featureless stump of a newborn. Unwilling to allow her powermad husband to kill the wretched child, his mother sent him down the river in a basket, Moses-style. He's found by a supernaturally gifted aspiring doctor who has been studying the science of regrowing limbs. He gifts the baby with replacements for all of his missing bodyparts adn raises him as his own. How a newborn survived that long with no heart, liver, or the like is not explained. As a grown man, the nameless outcast hunts down the demons who stole his body. Each time he slays one, his original body part grows back in. Along the way, he meets a similarly nameless female thief played by super-charming pop idol Kou Shibasaki. The uncultured and obnoxious girl happens upon the hero slaying a demon in a bar and decides to follow him, hoping to take his blade -which was forged for vengeance- for her own quest. She takes a liking to the name "Dororo" (little monster) and takes it as her own and the two are all set for adventure.

The hero -who takes the name Hyakkimaru- is your typical stoic Japanese protagonist and Dororo is the typical Kikuchiyo character: foolish and annoying, but gutsy and with a big heart. Hyakkimaru's aforementioned sword is particularly cool because it is embedded in his his elbow with his phony forearm acting like a pseudo-flesh sheath. Very, very cool. The fights are plentiful and a lot of fun and the variety of demons is wonderful, ranging from a blade-wielding gargoyle to a ridiculously awesome crabwoman to a monstrous tree that will likely drop your jaw. The journey is an absolute joy until the plot starts to thicken. Yup, old family reckonings must be reckoned. The result is a slowdown on the action and a dramatically ill-thought-out finale that isn't bad, but definitely knocks the film down a notch. Any more would be spoilers.

The special effects are very inconsistent. The first demon was a marvel to behold and I had assumed that this was the going to be the best fantasy film ever after it showed up. On the other end, there's a giant suitmation lizard that would still have looked cheap and out-of-place if he was battling Godzilla in the 60's, CG tongue or no. There are more winners than losers, but the inconsistency is annoying.

"Dororo" is full of cool characters, bada$z beasties, and killer concepts so if you enjoy the occasional fantasy film then proceed full steam ahead; this one's a winner. I'm hotly anticipating the sequels and wondering if another anime might be forthcoming. That would be sweet. Here's to American audiences getting a clue and demanding that quality films be imported from overseas for the theatrical runs they richly deserve. We've got next to nothing going on over here.
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on August 12, 2009
I had no idea when I selected "Dororo" from the Comcast-on-Demand "Free Movie" section that it would become an obsession. It's a very clever combination of elements from the Biblical story of Moses, the Pinocchio fairytale, the classical Frankenstein novel and the Highlander movies. The premise is that Hyakkimaru's father, a powerful warlord, sold 48 of his body parts to 48 demons for power over his enemies before he was even born. A young man now, Hyakkimaru must kill each demon to retrieve his true body. I can truly say that I've never seen a film as bizarre as this and yet with so many emotional layers. This film upon the first viewing will leave you gaping and you'll become mesmerized by the concepts used in the movie.

The director's vision is chock full of issues surrounding abandonment, and the effect of warmongering on children, most specifically our two main characters. In the prelude to the first battle Hyakkimaru has in the movie with a demon, several caged sad-eyed children roll by in wagon. Later, we see the remains of an orphanage consumed by a fire that killed all the children. At the orphanage, Dororo berates a couple who abandoned their child to the orphanage.

The two lead characters are fully formed characters, and their personalities evolve plausibly in this highly implausible movie as their relationship morphs and changes. The interaction between the two lead characters, Hyakkimaru and Dororo is fascinating to watch. We learn as an old storyteller tells the brash and inquisitive Dororo, who claims status as a master thief, how Hyakkimaru has "lost heart" after his 3rd demon kill. Of course, as I suspect the old storyteller knew, with Dororo as his companion, his depressive state could not continue. She simply becomes a force of nature in his life as she voices honestly to him that once he's done with the sword given him by the old story teller, especially designed to kill demons, that she will steal it from him. There is no way she's going to let him ditch her and she is not phased at his oddly working body parts, and thing that cannot be said of certain of the villagers he's encountered in his quest, which is reminiscent of the Frankenstein story. Her first act of theft with him is to steal one of his names, Dororo. The two even have their own theme music to commemorate their "bumpy" first meeting and relationship. Music very different from the depressive dirge we hear when we first meet Hyakkimaru, the man. What Dororo doesn't know is that she's stolen a name that literally means, "Little Monster," so her theft was actually a comforting gift, because like Pinocchio, Hyakkimaru longs to be a real human.

The secondary characters are important also, especially the shaman, Jukai, who, like Dr. Frankenstein and Geppetto, create from something new from something imperfectly formed. Jukai adopts Hyakkimaru and the scenes show both his adoring affection and his firm hand. It's an odd miracle that the only person on earth that could help such a pitiful, limbless creature should be this man. An odd dichotomy in father figures in the story, as one tries to make whole what the other divided. One is a warmonger and the other abhors war.

It is because each character has such a rich emotional life that you can ignore the CGI creatures, though I found them wildly creative. I like the fast paces scenes as well as the slower paced ones. I found no scene boring, not even the ones where the two main characters "seem" to be idly looking at flowers. The deeper and longer you look, the more cinematic gems you'll find. The participation of Dororo in Hyakkimaru's battles with the demons is substantial and very interesting to watch. Both fierce and brave, she is his true and tenacious friend and while she can call him "lunkhead" and "fool", no one else better try it. During the film she sacrifices something of extreme emotional importance to her for the sake of Hyakkimaru, which is a act of great weight, because she is quite stubborn, willful and headstrong, but it is here where the emotional layering gets even more intriguing.

It's telling that Dororo should be on the scene when Hyakkimaru recovers his voice, hearing and sight. Before her he had no one with whom to celebrate his victories, but does rather boisterously with her. She starts off with him much like a bossy, bratty, annoying little sister and ends up being more. And yet this happens with no overt romantic acts, but rather in the way the two respond to one another during crises. Of course, as I've said, I believe the old story teller arranged this circumstance, and, of course, he appears on the scene again during a major rupture between the two of them.

The reason I keep watching it over and over again is because it's one of those films where with each reviewing you see something you missed the first, fifth, twentieth time. Check out how demon blood spatter is handled and the shaman's oddly sterile "laboratory." Check out the wonderful acting of the actors who play his biological parents. Those scenes are palpable. Because of these, though I can not condone what Hyakkimaru's father did, I completely understand his motivation.

As for how a baby could survive without a heart or other organs, it makes sense to me that for the demons to get actual "living" human body parts, they had to set in motion some kind of life-sustaining field around the body, else the baby would expire with each theft. I believe this is also the reason for his other other worldly abilities. Be sure to savor each time Hyakkimaru regains a body part, because with the same interest I had whenever the Highlander would receive power after a beheading, I also had each time Hyakkimaru regained one of his stolen body parts. Satoshi Tsumabuki can act his behind off.

And the soundtrack -- is awesome. It lays the foundation for the emotional resonance throughout the film, whether it's whimsical or dark.

To avoid expository dialogue, we see the two main characters' history in several flashback scenes. Oddly, several are without the traditional introduction, but while this takes some getting used to, it does not detract from the movie.

The only problem I had was with certain of the English subtitles. When Hyakkimaru "senses" danger, as he his both blind and deaf, the subtitles translate his saying what I interpret as "I sense danger" as "I feel murderous." It took seeing it a second time to get what was really meant. Spiderman's Peter Parker would have said his Spidey senses were tingling. If you end up watching it as many times as I've had, you won't need the subtitles, you'll actually begin to become fluent in understanding Japanese.

Can't wait for the sequels "Dororo 2" and "Dororo 3" so as to learn more about Dororo's own intriguing past and the wall she carefully keeps up between Hyakkimaru and herself while still keeping herself close.
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on February 13, 2016
'Dororo' is a fast-paced fun and colorfully-imaginative film with kinetic (though sometimes brutal) Samurai-action + Fantasy-mystical elements tossed-in this highly-entertaining whirlpool-mix.

The original concept behind the film 'Dororo' came from the hyper-brilliant creative-mind of Legendary Osamu Tezuka (who of course was the father of modern Japanese manga & anime first in the 1950's and early 1960's 'Astro-Boy' 'Kimba the white Lion' 'Princess Knight' et al) Tezuka's original manga & TV-anime 'Dororo' was also popular in the late-1960's telling the tale of 'Hyakkimaru' (little-monster) who must reclaim his individual genuine body-parts (e.g. his real eyes, ears, heart, etc.) stolen by 48 Demons (when he was first-born due to an unholy alliance-deal-pact his father-warlord Daigo Kagemitsu made with the 48 warrior-demons, to gain brutal-power used to wage endlessly-bloody battle on the hapless citizenry during the relentlessly brutal Sengoku Jidai 'Warring-States' period in Japan, circa1400-1600)

It was quite an endeavor for director Akihiko Shiota to attempt to film (and recreate thru CGI) Tezuka's army of bizarrely-colorful (though still quite terrifying, and in many cases eccentric) Demons!
Of course Japanese films don't have the mega-million budgets to spend on state-of-art SFX, but I think you can honestly say that a number of the demonic-visions captured on screen (that often match Hyakkimaru 'blade-for-blade') were overall quite effective (and always hyper-imaginative =akin to some of the far-out fantasy creatures in 'Pan's Labyrinth')

'Hyakkimaru' has to fight (and kill) each of the warrior-Demons to regain-restore his authentic 'body' (and become fully human again) - fortunately, Hyakkimaru is nearly invincible due to the artificial-regenerating limbs and 'magic-healing' power endowed him by his mystical stepfather (and also thanks to that handy 'demon-killing' blade/sword permanently grafted to his Left arm)

But what adds immeasurable dramatics to this fantastic Story is that along the way Hyakkimaru meets (and in a sense 'teams-up') with a rough-and-tumble, disheveled (and quite belligerent) young thief who eventually takes on the namesake 'Dororo' (which in this film is explained to be another term for 'little-monster' or perhaps even 'little-monster-thief') - but as the film/Story also shows in flashback = 'Dororo' had no choice but to become a thief simply to survive after her parents had both been killed as a result of Daigo Kagemitsu's ruthlessly-bloodthirsty army-rampage, thru her beloved village.

I think actress Kou Shibasaki (who was also in cult-classic "Battle Royale" and even the American-version "47-Ronin" from a few years-back) is fantastically-feisty, indomitable and otherwise perfect as 'Dororo' (who will never back-down from a fight, or opportunity to pocket-pick) and Satoshi Tsumabuki is both other-Worldly-eerie in nature but also fiercely samurai-battle-ready as the outsider trying to reclaim his 'humanity' (both literally & figuratively!)

If you are looking for an imaginative, eccentric, fast-paced and highly-entertaining diversion (originally from the mind of creative-genius Osamu Tezuka) = this film is definitely for you! (And if you also can't get enough of Sengoku period Ronin rogue-samurai films + substantial-fantasy elements = watch this asap)!
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on February 5, 2009
Let me start off by saying I have never read the original manga this movie is based on so if you are looking to see how accurate this movie is to its source material this review might not be for you.

To put it simply, if you're in the mood for a fantasy film with swords, demons, and a decent storyline look no further than Dororo.

the GOOD:
1. Storyline is entertaining.
2. the acting is solid, slightly campy but, still fun.
3. the last half of the movie (without giving away anything) is where the story really seems to come to life.

the BAD:
1. the special effects are hit and miss. Sometimes they look great and other times they look, well, just bad.
2. some of the monster costumes look like they came straight out of a Power Rangers episode.

Since you're reading this review I assume you're interested in this title anyway so do yourself a favor and pick this one up, you won't regret it.
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on January 7, 2012
Without going into a dissertation, I really liked the movie and the story line. Some might find it hokey or stupid, but it's only for entertainment purposes!!! I hope that they continue the story line and make more movies!! I would definitely buy them!!!!!
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on August 28, 2013
Dororo offers beautiful cinematography which will seize and enthrall you, plot/concept/dialogue you either get right away or soon in a Eureka! flash, the plot almost like a Shakespearean tragedy and farce all roiled together. No spoilers here; Dororo's magic doesn't need surprises. It's all surprises

It's a great see and re-see a movie which will surprise you time after time. It could be seen as a whole new genre in filmmaking. Actually, it got better every time I viewed it. You will be affected; maybe it will stun you or maybe Enlighten you. For sure it will enterain you. It is an absolutely unique experience. For action lovers, there's plenty to rock any action junkie. Swords splatter blood, body parts sail every which way; you'll have trouble sitting still. Same getting-rocked problem hits for aficionados of hot dance routines with all-out dancing with suprising Asians doing exotic Bollywood verve (with their trademark energy) Then flow into Spanish/Mexican rhythms done like you've never heard before.

Surprise: Dororo takes place in 3064. This is a very unusual mystical SciFi concept with a feudal twist in an apocalyptic time. Great special effects keep hitting you for the film's 139 minutes of action and intrigue with great production values throughout.

One last note: There are several DVD versions of Dororo. Reading reviews I chose a yellow-green cover with the subtitle "The Quest of a Samurai Warrior (actually a misleading subhead this Dororo is much more complex and original). Other reviewers have noted problems on other versions I avoided. Check out their complaints; I hope you stick with the yellow-green cover version. READ THE DORORO REVIEWS TO MAKE SURE YOU GET THE BEST VERSION! This one's it.
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on September 29, 2014
The Japanese have always been known for their quirkyness in film. As other reviewers have stated, this is one bizarre movie! But, very entertaining. The only thing that I didn't care for, is some scenes have an awful color pallette. Either a greenish, or reddish tint, ala 'Musa The Warrior.' Evidently, the much anticipated sequel to this film never happened. Recommended for a weird evening!
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on July 28, 2015
If you like Japanese movies this one will not disappoint you. Quite crazy at the moments with some ridicolous music at some moments but again hard to stop watching. One more thing Kou Shibasaki is just to cute not to watch her.
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If you've see past movies like Yokai Wars or Onmyouji then the standard storyplot shouldn't come as to much of a surprise,the basic plot is you have a wandering samurai who cursed at birth now seeks the very limbs and organs that were taken from him as well as protecting a powerful katana from falling into the wrong hands. Of course you can't have this movie without the usual sidekick who in this case is a young street girl pickpocket who first tries to steal in someway the powerful weapon but along the way becomes a close friend to this wondering warrior.

The movie effects are alright obviously not the quality you'll see like with Avatar or Iron man and the like but still decent enough,also the acting is very well done as the actors and actresses play their roles well and of course the fight scenes are very well done as well.

So if you like samurai action movies with a touch of mysticism here's a good one to look at or just looking for a entertaining Japanese movie in general another good choice. Though if you don't like subbed movies then you're out of luck as this has no English or other language dubbing except Japanese though the subtitles appear decent enough for you to basically understand what the characters are saying.
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on March 21, 2015
Love this quirky Japanese Manga turned into film. Loved the Actors, Wish that the film took it further, but from what I understand the author went to other writings and never really came back to this one. I love that it was turned into a Video Game and in the Game's storyline we do see ......... some spoiler nfo ...........................................................................................................................................................................................................the relationship between Dororo and the Warrior be completed after he gained all of his body parts back, but the film only takes you to mid stream in that storyline and we're left with them continuing on in His quest for his body parts.
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