By: Michael Yagi
Review of 'Azumi'
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
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.
2.6/8- Some good action. But it was too long and quite silly.
(c) 2004 Eight Trees CineMANIA
========== X-RAMR-ID: 37948 X-Language: en X-RT-ReviewID: 1287393 X-RT-TitleID: 10003760 X-RT-SourceID: 1569 X-RT-AuthorID: 10641 X-RT-RatingText: 2.6/8
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