Tag Archives: Yūma Ishigaki

JAPANORAMA - Seven Monkey BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA.jpgAzumi, Aya Ueto, Yoshio Harada, Shun Oguri, Masatō Ibu, Naoto Takenaka, Kazuki Kitamura, Aya Okamoto, Yuma Ishigaki, Joe Odagiri

As part of the JAPANORAMA feature I am inviting fellow movie sites to join in. This post is from Andy at Fandango Groovers Movie Blog, a very busy site full of reviews, features, monthly run-downs of all the latest movies… and plenty James Bond articles. You can also follow Andy on Twitter.

Azumi (あずみ): Set in seventieth century Feudal Japan and based on the Japanese manga series of the same name created by Yu Koyama, Azumi is the story of an orphaned girl who is raised along with nine other children by a master Samurai.  After years of training they have to face one final test before going on their first mission. The test is nothing short of brutal. Their mission is to kill three warlords preventing a civil war that will be devastating for the country. The main reason the film works is the lead character Azumi (played by the impossibly cute Aya Ueto), as proved by Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill and Ang Lee in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you can’t go far wrong when you give a beautiful woman a sword and drop her into the middle of the male dominated action genre.  Directed Ryûhei Kitamura who made his name in the totally bonkers (but brilliant) Versus, this possibly his most accessible movie. 

13 Assassins: a group of chosen samurai are tasked with killing an evil lord, for the future of Feudal Japan! The first hour is intense, but slow-paced – perked up with some token Takashi maddness / grotesque violence. Then you have the 45 minute long action scene, which starts as a tactical battle but quickly turns into a bit of a generic hack-and-slash – and you don’t see much action, just swords flying and splatter sound effects. Takashi does a good job of playing up / emphasising what outsiders most associate with japan: shogun, samurai, dynasty, honor, respect, code, infatuation with death etc… almost to a patriotic level. The biggest downfall was the focus and development of all 13 characters, which doesn’t count for much when they all have the same outfit, haircut and are pretty blurry in the battle. 13 Assassins is a solid ‘against-the-odds’ type story, but collapses a bit under its own grand finale.

Score: 6/10