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JAPANORAMA - Cheng Cheng BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMAThe Twilight SamuraiAs part of JAPANORAMA I am inviting fellow movie sites to join in. This post if from Mike at Screen Kicker Movies, an up-and-coming site full of film reviews and features that are oozing with funny writing and personality, making for easy and entertaining reading. He has chosen to review The Twilight Samurai – full review can be found on his site here. You can also follow Mike on Twitter @Metalmike25

The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei, たそがれ清兵衛) The movie really isn’t your typical samurai movie. It’s set during peacetime when samurai worked as accountants instead of warriors. Essentially they went from doing the coolest job in the world to the most boring job in the world. This is where we meet Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) a samurai/accountant/single parent (what a combo!) who struggles to make ends meet until he is presented with an offer he can’t refuse. Released in 2002 and directed by Yoji Yamada it throws a curve ball at anyone expecting a violent action movie. It tackles something I feel is much more important than the usual motive of revenge – it’s about how normal people survive when life has given them a hard time. It’s very relevant during these recession hit times, more so than when it was released and this gives it an immediacy that stays with the viewer. Combine this with romance, comedy, and some very cute kids, and you have a winner on your hands. All together it’s one of those films that gives you hope in humanity.  Oh and a desire to get a kick-ass samurai sword.

Score: 9/10

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The Fox Family: bear with me here… it’s a comedy musical about 4 foxes trapped in people’s bodies that need to find live human livers to eat at a specific time in order to become fully human, they also run a circus; makes sense? Because it’s Korean and weird the style is characteristically slapstick, raunchy, gory and camper than a row of tents. The ‘musical’ element is overplayed with only a handful of songs, none of which are catchy. There are some good jokes and memorable scenes like lapdancing on a subway carriage, sexy noodle montage and tramps / riot police / activists bursting into dance but you kind of get the feeling the story and music were written in one big (stoned) session and nobody bothered to check it afterwards. Unfortunately this ‘unique’ idea ends up being mediocre so for birazzo Asian musicals, best stick to the ‘Happiness of the Katakuris’

4.5/10