Azumi (2003)

reviewed by
Michael Yagi

By: Michael Yagi
Review of 'Azumi'
Genre: Action
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Year: 2003

The chambara band wagon is starting to roll in with the release of

Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and Takeshi Kitano's North American

release of Zatoichi. After the cult success of Versus, Ryuhei Kitamura

brings us the new Azumi. Azumi is a flashy movie and has some bloody

and sometimes great fight scenes. But as an action movie, it was way

too long. And to be honest, I thought the story was pretty idiotic and

embarrassing to watch for a live action sword slasher flick. It's more

suited to be an anime, a very long anime.

The story starts with a group of young sword wielding warriors. They

are taught to be deadly assassins in an attempt to take out corrupt

warlords by order of the Tokugawa Shogunate. As they are prepared to

leave their mountain side home, they are put through one more test by

their master, affectionately called 'Jii'. To their horror, they are

grouped into pairs and reluctantly face off with each other to the

death to see who the strongest of the warriors are. Anyway, after that

bloody opening, Jii turns out to be a pretty heartless bastard, but

according to the movie, not necessarily evil. After the intense face

off, the remaining youngsters poise themselves and set out to find

these warlords. Along the way they meet some strange characters, like

the species confused Saru, appropriately dressed in primate attire. Or

the gender confused psychotic Samurai who loves roses and dresses in

white. I forgot, he periodically girly giggles. But his fighting

skills are something to be feared as he has never had to defend an

attack. And so the story goes.

The plot is as bad as this movies pacing. I'd say its comparable to a

really bad B movie spaghetti western. All flash and no cash. The film

in general lacks any finesse that a lot of good chambara genre TV and

movies embody. Some of the mass fight scenes are poorly filmed as

their are a crowd of extras suffocating the screen. And the 'bullet

time' effects of Azumi's attacks are sloppy, I could have just

fastforwarded the movie with the same end result. Along with the bad

story, there is a hefty load of bad stereotypes. A little is fine, but

seeing the movies ninjas, monkey men and freakish feminine samurai was

just frustrating to watch. The idea of a young group of adolescent

swordsman is good and all, but Azumi was like having to watch N'Sync

and Brittany act out the Power Rangers. The silly poses and flaky

performances were short of embarrassing. It was a movie meant to be an

anime, but alas it is not. Although it's a fantasy movie, it goes too

far to the point of being an assault to my sensibilities and pushing

me to boredom.
The verdict:

2.6/8- Some good action. But it was too long and quite silly.

(c) 2004 Eight Trees CineMANIA
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X-RT-RatingText: 2.6/8

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