Kill! is an economically titled film that provides some great characters, a strong story, lots of well shot fights and some clever humour. I have to confess that most of the samurai films I've seen have put me to sleep - Kurosawa's work or the Zatoichi films being a happy exception. KILL! never once had me in danger of nodding off, keeping me entertained from start to finish.
I was reminded of Kurosawa's SANJURO quite a bit, and read afterwards that both films were based on the same novel. I'm not sure if there were multiple stories within that novel, or if one or both of the films are just very loosely based on it. Tatsuya Nakadai's ronin is certainly a similar character to Mifune's Sanjuro, perhaps a little more world-weary and sly, not so majestic. Nakadai is Mifune's only serious competition for the "God of Samurai Films" crown, having made a bunch over the course of his career. His performance in KILL! is the best I've seen from him.
The film is well lensed, written, directed and performed. The pacing rarely if ever lags, and the story focuses on the characters rather than getting bogged down in trying to accurately describe historical detail or tedious political intrigues. Action is exciting and the comedy is subtle, smart and dark... all making for a pleasing 114 minutes of cinema :) Recommended!
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