A Film By Hiroyuki Nakano: Samurai Fiction
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(Sep 30, 2003)
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought this film sight-unseen, which is pretty rare. Like most people, I like to have some idea of what I'm plunking down my money for. For some reason, though, this movie sort of snuck off the shelf, took the twenty-five bucks out of my pocket, and came home with me before I'd even realized it. Maybe it was the cool, minimalist cover, or maybe I was still coming down off my "Kill Bill vol. 1" kick and wanted a Samurai film, I don't know. Either way, I found myself watching it last night, and I was floored by what I was seeing.
You know those happy coincidences, where you realize you wound up with a lot more than you thought you were going to get? Like when you go to a new sushi place and realize they've got the best stuff around for less money than that other place you've been going to for years, plus you get more maki roll for your money? This movie brings a similar feeling to mind; "This is great! I'm glad I took a chance here."
The story revolves around a young Samurai named Heishiro Inukai, who is on a quest to retrieve a clan treasure stolen by a wandering, steely-eyed Ronin by the name of Rannosuke. It's classic Samurai fare through and through, and for a Japanese film is remarkably straightforward, though it's never dull. Quite the opposite, actually.
Director Hiroyuki Nakano uses the relative simplicity of the story as a blank canvas, and paints in a masterfully blended portrait of a classic Akira Kurosawa Samurai epic lovingly clothed in a hip, MTV Asia-style update. The effect sounds overwrought on paper, but Nakano pulls it off without seeming to bastardize the source material.Read more ›
The plot is fairly basic (the stealing of the sword reminds me of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), but the way director Hiroyuki Nakano sees it is very original. Shot mostly in black and white, it's an obvious way to get the audience to appreciate his artistic vision.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of "Samurai Fiction" is the musical score, composed by Tomoyasu Hotei, who you may know as "...the guy that made that song from Kill Bill" (Battle Without Honor or Humanity, the part where O-Ren is entering the house of blue leaves). Every fight scene and many simply well directed scenes are pulled from 1696 to modern day with hard rock or techno anthems.
This is a must have DVD for any martial arts fans, particularly those looking to see where Quentin Tarintino got "Kill Bill" from.
Eventually I had heard that not only were some of Tarantino's scenes from "Kill Bill Vol. 1" taken directly from "Samurai Fiction", but the composer of "Battle Without Honor..." also scored the film and had a major starring role in it. I decided I had to give it a look.
And it was worth it. The movie is a different take on Akira Kurosawa's old skool samurai epics from the '50's and '60's. In some ways it's a bit of a send-up, but this is no lampoon in the vein of "Airplane" nor is it a knock-off/homage similar to...well, pretty much every movie Quentin Tarantino has ever made. It doesn't take itself too seriously, but the plot twist that brings the movie to its conclusion is hardly that of traditional martial arts movies (there seems to be more of "kinder and gentler" school of martial arts flicks being produced today...Jet Li's "Hero" is not dissimilar to "Samurai Fiction" in this regard).
There are enough old-skool elements that tie this film to its predecessors, but the film is marketed as "an MTV generation samuari movie", and I don't really see the connection (other than having prominent Japanese musicians playing roles and the score being more contemporarily pop-oriented rather than Japanese classical music), but the attitute is decidedly lighter. This is a good thing; Jackie Chan has longsince proved that comedy has a place in an otherwise serious action movie, and the humor in "Samurai Fiction" is nowhere nearly as obvious or Chaplin-esque as in Chan's work.Read more ›
If you can lower your expectations and let yourself dive into the story, watched some Kurosawa Samurai movies before and share a general addiction to Asian culture, you should give this movie a try and I believe, you will be positively surprised. For the real lover of Japanese movies this DVD comes in the only way, it is suitable for the fan: Original Japanese language with English subtitles. If this annoys you, put it back on the shelf.
For all others, highly recommended. It features a wonderful love story, some criminal story and how the underdog Samurai can beat the master Samurai in the best sense of a drama.
For me, this is an absolute gem and stands for it's own. As I wrote at the beginning: Unique.
I am writing this here, because you can't buy this movie in Germany but I can order it in the US and I highly appreciate that I can do this and Amazon is just a very reliable company. I am not paid to write this, it reflects my true opinion :-)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great movie. An enjoyable product of the MTV generation, especially for fans of old Kurosawa movies who don't mind their genre being ribbed a bit. Read morePublished 8 months ago by avaelin
Not to be missed. for all those who thought the great Samurai flicks of the 50s were gone, this is the one to see. Hilarious, full of action, romantic, take your pick. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Peter S. Lunde
This is a real treat even for those who don't normally watch samurai movies. The story itself is the basic samurai type story line. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Elio Lopez
This a fantastic movie.
I collect samurai movies and I decided to expand my collection to more current titles. Read more
I bought this encouraged by good reviews - but I was terribly disappointed! Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Maciej
This is a modern made samurai film with an old school flavor. There should be more movies like this, when is the next film coming out Mr. Nakano? Or maybe Ninja Fiction, huh? Read morePublished on October 1, 2013 by MOPOPSHOP
This was a really awesome movie, great swordfighting, a great villian, some drama, some comedy etc. The 'villian' played by Hotei, is a wandering samurai following the way of the... Read morePublished on March 24, 2012 by SnowDog3000
If you love Japanese film, this will at least entertain. If you're looking for action, stay far away. Read morePublished on September 27, 2011 by Headphone Jack
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