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Goemon is a Japanese folk hero in the tradition of Robin Hood -- fighting tyranny and robbing the rich to give to the poor.

So he was inevitably the subject of an action movie, simply called "Goemon." This sleek, stylized historical-fantasy movie looks a little like the ninja lovechild of The Adventures of Robin Hood and 300, but the mix of humor, romance and sharply-drawn action takes a shockingly dark turn in the movie's last third.

Goemon Ishikawa (Yôsuke Eguchi) is a clever master thief who likes to give his stolen valuables to the impoverished. But fifteen years ago, he was a loyal ninja serving the brilliant warlord Oda Nobunaga (Hashinosuké Nakamura) -- and after Nobunaga was murdered by a traitor, the disillusioned Goemon became a wandering thief and friend to the poor.

That is, until a literal Pandora's box shows him that Toyotomi Hideyoshi was involved in his master's death -- the very man who is taking Goemon's childhood sweetheart Chacha (Ryoko Hirosue) as his concubine, and preparing to declare war using Western weapons. Along with his old friend/rival Saizo (Takao Ôsawa), Goemon sets out to attack Hideyoshi... but they soon discover that this path only leads to tragedy.

"Goemon" is one of those movies that has a good-but-not-great script, paired with spellbindingly lovely visuals -- explosive ninja battles on golden rooftops, waterfalls surrounded by glimmering fireflies, and sea battles full of blood and fire. It's a pretty wild ride, and the only problem is that a couple of the characters feel unnecessary (the little boy Goemon rescues).

The first two-thirds of the movie are a pretty steady stream of action, brief romantic scenes, and sepia-toned flashbacks of Goemon's childhood (and especially of the charismatic Nobunaga). But after that, the movie becomes much darker and bleaker, with innocent people being horribly killed and Goemon becoming a more hardened, dark person.

Egichi does a great job as Goemon, both as the rakish thief and the tormented ninja avenger -- sort of like a Japanese Errol Flynn with a touch of Harrison Ford. He's funny, charming and eventually heartwrenching. Hirosue is decent, although she doesn't get to do much except wear enormous dresses and look sad.

But honestly, the title character often gets eclipsed by Saizo -- this is a strong, tragic man who is torn between his old friendship, his intense love for his wife and baby, and his often nasty job. Osawa gives a beautiful performance full of raw emotion, which climaxes in an impassioned speech to the masses, apparently inspiring them to rebel.

"Goemon" sculpts a folk legend into a fun, thrilling and ultimately tragic adventure movie, and turns out a pretty good movie while it's at it.
44 comments70 of 72 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 23, 2011
Goemon a body guard to a princess turned thief after his lord Oda Nobunagas assassination chooses freedom over service but freedom as we know
comes with price. Stealing from the rich and corrupt and giving to the poor. during one of his heists he comes across a mysterious box that could
unravel a deadly conspiracy and tear Japan apart at the seams into a another civil war can Goemon put a stop to this chaos or will he be torn apart with it?

A beautifully done film with amazing special effects through green screen which most of the film is done in with plenty of emotional impact and crazy over the top action.I was truly impressed with this film on all levels and enjoyed it the beautiful done cgi scenery, the great action scenes through out the
film especially at the last 30 or so minutes of which is pure totally unrealistic but awesome action where he takes on hordes of enemies to enact revenge
for a loss of a friend and save Japan from yet another civil war and finally bring peace to a war torn land.

I highly recommend this film but if you have doubts about it then i would recommend renting it first. But if you like Japanese action films
with some history put in although changed for dramatic effect or if you simply like action films i say buy it, i did and it was truly worth it.

With my respect Thanks for reading my review
I hope it was helpful.
0Comment17 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 14, 2010
All around Goemon is SUCH a thrill to watch. I was still thinking about it days after I saw it. I'm actually really excited to show all my friends.

The story of Goemon is actually that of folklore, and one that doesn't really give too much information about his life. There are some Japanese (I believe) plays about him, but this movie gives a whole new viewpoint on the Goemon lore. I don't wanna spoil it because half of the fun is the story itself.
This movie, on a viewing level, is INcredible! The special effects look superb (a little more superior than in Casshern), the action is well-thought out, the camera angles and directing are clever and fluid, the costumes and backgrounds really put you in the mood of the given scene and overall movie, etc.

I haven't seen such a good movie in a while. Definitely worth adding to your collection. The acting is top notch, and the visuals keep you attracted to the movie all the way to the touching end (and it won't be anything you would expect). I thought the movie ended 5 times over (i'm exagerating) before it actually ended, so I'm guessing it was about a 2 hour movie. PLEASE check it out and spread the word. Great movies like this should be more known.

I don't know what a "prefect" movie is or would be...but I have to say there was nothing wrong with this movie in my mind and I wouldn't have changed a THING! 10 out of 10 points for me! Enjoy.
0Comment13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 11, 2011
This movie caught my eye, as I have been trying to increase my Foreign Film collection. I have always been curious with anything that has to do with Japanese history (especially the unification period). It literally grabbed my attention in the first minute and a half, and never let go. The time period this movie is based on was one full of civil strife and unrest for Japan, with class and rank clearly defined and Feudal Lords constantly fighting for power to control the whole country. And while the movie stylizes the mood and scenery greatly in regards to these things, it still held some historical accuracy. Most of the main characters in the movie actually existed during this time period: Oda Nobunaga, Mitsuhide Aketchi, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Ieyasu Tokogawa, Hitori Hanzo. I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I caught.

Many of the reviews have brought up the utter beauty of the landscape and architectural design. Needless to say, I am on the same side of the fence. Scenes in the forest FEEL like a forest, scenes in a castle FEEL like a castle, and so on. Sometimes you DO feel like it's obvious you're looking at a green screen or floor. But it all seems integrated smoothly with the actors/actresses utilizing that space, so you don't end up paying attention to it that closely. The sets are busy; lots of extras wandering around and adding "life" to the background. The colors are vibrant and the sound is crisp and clear. My only qualm with quality is that the English dub track sounds a bit "goofy," whereas the Japanese track is emotional and feels more decisive. Also with the Japanese track, you get 6.1 surround instead of Eng 5.1.....not a huge difference if you don't have the extra speaker.

The action is frequent and fast! Obviously, as one can see from the preview, the scope of realism is stretched. But what good are action sequences that abide by all natural laws of physics?! Joking....but the action is good. Some shots are up close and a little cluttered, but others are even paced and use a lot of form.

To sum it up, this movie really took my breath away with an, albeit, LOOSE historical relevance, but historical nonetheless. The combination of action, drama, atmosphere, mood, and dialog progresses the movie fluidly and you may be surprised by how many times you catch yourself saying "ah" or "wow."

***on a side note* If you are looking for any literature regarding the subject matter of this time period in Japanese history, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend "TAIKO." It is a very detailed, and very long book (but worth the read) regarding the deep relationship between Hideyoshi Toyotomi and the majority of those listed in the first paragraph of this review.
0Comment9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Far from a perfect movie, but a great movie none-the-less as the whole rises above the parts. For me, it's the underlying historical themes about fate, personal choices, the lust for power and it's never-ending affect on the world that pushes it over the line. I truly enjoyed it. The plot was interesting and complex. Visually, if you accept the film on its own terms, it's stunning. It has the usual sense of duty and fate over-whelming personal lives so common in this genre, but with some hopeful twists thrown in.

An apt commentary on today's world, at heart, it can be enjoyed on many levels. Two thumbs up!

2011-08-11 Update -- I think about this flawed masterpiece a lot and that's another indication of the substance and value embedded within it. I'm at 6 decades now, probably not in the target demographic, but I loved this highly original effort. It definitely struck a chord with me. Some of the visuals are quite memorable in and of themselves. Quite an interesting work.
0Comment7 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 2, 2012
As many reviewers have stated this is a Japanese Robin Hood story that is a lot deeper than that Kevin Costner trash that passed for Robin Hood back in the 90's. The characters are fleshed out really well and you feel the connection with them. I watched a few times to understand everything that was happening and I suggest you do the same. Buy the film and watch it a few times let it sink in. The English dub isn't bad I didn't find it offensive as some but I prefer the subtitles and hearing the language the actors were speaking during filming. The last 3rd is dark and full of action, the later fight scenes are nothing short of amazing the cinematography during these scenes gives you a 1st person view of ninja magic. At the low price the movie is at now I wouldn't hesitate to buy. Enjoy!
0Comment2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 15, 2012
When I first started watching this it seemed a little cartoony for my taste but it turned out to be quite enjoyable. The movie loosely centers around several of the famous ninjas in history such as Hattori Hanzo, and Goemon as well as a healthy dose of action. The fight scenes resemble more of a live action anime film than anything but it is still very good and a must for ninja fans.
0Comment2 of 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 25, 2011
The movie seems to have the mask of being a "robin hood" themed movie but I found it to be such a small part of the movie to not even talk about it. Let's say maybe 5 minutes worth of the movie. Essentially Goemon goes by the "Greatest thief to live" but he started out as a ninja serving his master that saved him as a small child and taught him how to become strong so that nothing could be taken from him. His master/mentor then was assasinated in which Goemon then took on his "freedom" and went into stealing for a living.

Then his past comes back to haunt him and you begin to see how all of the main characters have such a deep history together and everything you thought was wrong.

In the end I would say this was a pretty good movie. It has some great fighting scenes but I will warn you that this is not a realistic action movie. It has unbeleiveable jumping and swordplay that go well with ninja movies.

Not sure if I will watch this movie again though. I would recommend a rent
22 comments8 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 18, 2011
Remember the awesome Asian fliks of old? But kicking from start to finish. Or, you got a sob story packed full of the main character crying like a baby; a good emotional tale that shows the soft side of the usually indestructible hero with only a halfway decent fight or two. This film on the other hand, is one of the great ones that sit right in the middle in between the early Jackie Chan directed films previously unreleased in the states, and Storm Riders, one of the best for Dragon Ball Z style fighting. GOEMON has an amazing emotional story that builds throughout and really makes you feel something for the characters, multiple characters, not just the hero 'Goemon'. This movie doesn't just jump from fight scene to fight scene with some poorly written filler masquerading as a plot line, it does rely heavily on the brilliant story but, the fighting that it does have in itself certainly makes the movie worth buying, even if your the type that isn't into watching all that "talking crap" ...or reading crap if you prefer subtitles like myself. So, DO NOT miss out. This is a -good movie- the whole way through, no matter what your martial arts movie preferences are.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 2, 2011
For the Modern Japanese Martial Arts Film Aficionado, Visually it was like watching Cashern (makes sense since it was the same director) with a Robin Hood like twist. Its Fantasy Medieval Japan with western Knight Armor. It is very CGI heavy with action sequences that look like it could only really happen in Anime. Like most Asian Action Films these days its filled with action humor and tragic situations. If you liked "Dagger of Kamuei" , "Cashern" and "Shinobi" then you should probably go watch this. Im a huge Supporter of the Genre (so naturally I am biased) and I don't really think this film is for everyone but I am a Japanese martial arts film junkie and I rank it up there with Dagger of Kamui and Shinobi. I don't want to Spoil anything so you arent going to find Spoilers in this review. Not a movie for those that expect the film too take itself to seriously because even though some of the situations in the film are quite intense it is offset by action sequences that are too fantastic to believe such as jumping from roof top to roof top without breaking a sweat.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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