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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Samurai Action Series, November 4, 2006
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This review is from: Lone Wolf and Cub Box Set (DVD)
I'm a huge fan of martial arts films in general, samurais in particular. Part of the problem, for me, in finding samurai films I'd like is the tendency of Japanese filmamkers to include odd humor and action scenes that are too unbelievable. Now, I like unrealistic action fights, I can watch Drunken Master 2 or Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon all day, but sometimes you can take fantasy too far--in the anime version of Samurai Showdown, Haohmaru the samurai defeats a swarm of bees with his sword by chopping them up. A bit too much.

The reason I bring this up is to let anyone who has the same taste as I do in martial arts films (fantasy fighting with some gravity to it) know that they'll enjoy these movies as much as anything they've seen.

First off, the story is just great in each film. You really can't predict the actions and decisions that lead hero, Ogami Itto, will make. He's the perfect samurai character, grim, silent, and ruthlessly efficient. I was a bit leary about Tomisaburo Wakaya, as he's not the vision of the ultimate samurai, but his fine acting and martial arts chops make you forget about his double chin. Upon first seeing him, I wished they had cast an actor who looked mroe like the comicbook Ogami Itto--twenty minutes into a film, I forgot all about the comics.

The action is just incredibly well done. It's not the beautiful, agile swordplay of the Chinese sword films, but it has an elegance to it. Whereas the Chinese like to draw out a fight and have both warriors display every move in their arsenal, the Japanese directors tend to focus on a single, perfect stroke. The fights are fast and furious, with limbs and fountains of blood. For those seeking to avoid blood and guts, you might want to rethink getting this. Just think of the final action scene in the phenomenal Kill Bill Vol. 1, where the bride decimates the Crazy 88. Now imagine that scene with someone who actually knows martial arts, and you'll get the idea.

Anyway, let me just say that these six flicks are MY Star Wars. The ultimate samurai saga, bar none. If only Kenji Masume and Kazuo Koike would ahve made a Musashi film.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 15, 2007 6:59:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 15, 2007 6:59:46 AM PDT
D. Yamasaki says:
I grew up watching these films in the early '70s at the various Japanese theaters that once existed in Los Angeles, and it's great to see so many people still enjoying them.

Your statement, "Just think of the final action scene in the phenomenal Kill Bill Vol. 1, where the bride decimates the Crazy 88. Now imagine that scene with someone who actually knows martial arts..." is right on.

And your last sentence, "If only Kenji Masume and Kazuo Koike would have made a Musashi film." immediately illicited an evil grin. Imagine Ichijoji with fountains of Yoshioka blood shooting in all directions. That would be diabolically fun!
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