|Index||7 reviews in total|
15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Samurai superman fights filthy magistrate, 5 November 2000
Author: Killer-40 from Frankfurt, Germany
Remember Koji Yakusho from SHALL WE DANCE, UNAGI (THE EEL), CURE or TAMPOPO? The Japanese box-office star is the new magistrate in a corrupt town who spreads rumours about his negligence and dubiosity only to get rid of all the bad guys he has to face and who underestimate him then completely. Dora-heita is an example for a streetwise and easy living guy with the classic abilities of a samurai - although he is making fun of them. The sword fighting seems to be classic but is hidden in camera movements, cuts and other tricks because Yakusho hasn't got the presence and fighting abilities of a Toshiro Mifune. The film was planned long ago by the four famous directors Kurosawa, Kinoshita, Kobayashi and Ichikawa who formed Yonki-no-kai (The Committee of Four Knights) in 1969 and wrote the script together. Only after three of them had died, Ichikawa could finally make his 74th movie out of their script.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not a true Chambara Masterpiece, but a damn good time., 18 August 2007
Author: massaster760 from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The City of Horisoto is in bad shape. It's full of gamblers, thieves,
prostitutes, smugglers, drug addicts, and Yakuza. At the center of this
are three bosses who each control different aspects of the Hirosoto
underworld; specifically Bosses Taju, Saibei, and Nadahachi. Magistrate
Dora-Heita is dispatched by his lord to clean up the City... and
possibly the local government as well. The only problem is Dora-Heita
is infamously known as a drunken, debauched, samurai with unusual
tactics (to say the least). Will he be able to clean up the City or is
he just-as his reputation suggests-a philandering, gambling, drunkard?
Although produced in 2000, Dora-Heita is truly a product of the late 60's. Written by the "Four Musketeers" (Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita and Masaki Kobayshi) in 1969, and directed by the last surviving member of the troop, Kon Ichikawa. The film's script sat around for 30 years until Kon decided to commit the text to celluloid. For those reasons, the film closely resembles 60's Chambara in form and tone. Those familiar with Kon Ichikawa and Akira Kurosawa will know what to expect, and they won't be disappointed.
But for those who aren't familiar with the works of Kurosawa and Ichikawa I will elaborate.
Dora-Heita is a slow but correspondingly paced samurai epic. Don't be expecting a non-stop slaughter-fest or you'll be disappointed. The film actually only features one true sword fight(which is incredible) and if your only in it to see the obligatory blood splatter from sword strokes... than this isn't your film. In fact, Dora-Heita doesn't even enter the City until the film hits its 45 minute mark.
Dora-Heita's true allure is in its direction, dialog, plot, and acting. Kon Ichikawa's direction is excellent and typical of early Chambara. Kurosawa fans will be especially delighted to catch shades of the late masters great repartee throughout the film. The plot is also reminiscent of Kurosawa's dual masterpieces Yojimbo and Sanjuro, (although Dora-Heita isn't on the same level as those masterpieces). And Koji Yakusho is great as the cryptically competent Magistrate Koheita (a.k.a. Dora-Heita). On top of everything, the film has some pretty funny comedic elements to it too, I found myself chuckling throughout at Koheita's exploits. Add all these qualities up and you have a very fun and involving film.
The film does have some minor faults. The plot might be a little too much like Yojimbo for it's own good. Some scenes run on a little long, and sometimes the dialog becomes a bit superfluous.
Bottom Line- Not an outright Masterpiece, but a damn fun two hours.
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Engaging detective story with humor and some decent action, 12 June 2007
Author: Chung Mo from NYC
Another project from the files of Kurosawa gets completed, this time by
master director Kon Ichikawa who co-wrote it with Kurosawa and other
directors during an aborted attempt to create an independent film
company in the early 1970's.
A samurai is sent to be the new magistrate of a very corrupt fiefdom. Never reporting in to his office, the samurai immediately creates the impression that he's about as immoral a samurai as one can be without killing or abusing anyone. He insults the chamberlain and head officials of the fief and spends most of his time gambling and carousing with prostitutes. All the while he's really investigating how the local yakuza are working in league with the lords of the fiefdom.
While this is a very amusing film and quite enjoyable for most of it's length, it's not a deep movie. However, the humor is good and the action is well handled. It's a good looking production with one minor drawback. The anticipated sword fight showdown happens (it's a very good scene) but the film then goes on for another twenty minutes so all the loose ends can be tied up. I didn't mind but it felt lop-sided.
Enjoyable but I found myself waiting for more, 28 May 2011
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film begins with a new magistrate being appointed. He's apparently
the fourth appointed in the last year in this film set in the feudal
period in Japan. Past magistrates were frustrated by the in-grained
corruption and gave up--but this one is a bit different--he ALREADY is
"Dora-heita" was an enjoyable film but I can't help but think that I was always expecting more--like there would be some amazing resolution to make it all magical or at least more interesting. That's because you know that the incompetent debaucher is going to eventually spring his trap and reveal himself to be a gifted and powerful foe. But, while this eventual unveiling occurs, it all just seemed quite anticlimactic. Also, the action, sometimes was pretty good (such as when Dora-heita fought guys with swords with only his bare hands or a knife), at other times seemed a bit second-rate as well. And, oddly, there wasn't any blood. Overall, it's okay...
hammett-san, is that you behind the mask?, 13 July 2008
Author: deng43 from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
someone calls this a detective story, and that is apt. the film reminds
me very much of an American detective tale, something hammett might
have written, but it is effortlessly translated into another world, one
of swords and sake.
there is one point, a night shot, when the magistrate has first entered the corrupt town he is to clean up, and the camera catches faces that reek of depravity, hopelessness, vacancy; these are the seedy, misbegotten, down-and-out characters of a low rent street of burst dreams; it is an almost noir shot of the underbelly. for a moment you are in some other movie, a bleaker seemingly more modern place where concrete hems the characters in and no escape exists. it is a very western shot in the value judgments it makes for the viewer. the shot is jarring and you never have to ask again why this place needs to be cleaned up.
the main characters come off with a western outlook quite often. the geisha who tracks the magistrate is a regular hell-on-wheels girl who knows about life and has the bit in her teeth - maybe almost a harlow part. the magistrate really lacks the veneration and gravity you will find in any similar Japanese movie that features clans, a hierarchy, bushido, men of status and the formality normally associated with samurai society. the protagonist is a trickster and an irreverent scoffer. it is nearly sam spade looking for lew archer's killer.
i found the flic to be a really nice mix of western attitudes and samurai story in a comedic melange that was not in the least bit overdone or offsetting.
i give it a seven because i didn't "love" the movie, but i did like it a lot and will watch it again.
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Neither fish nor fowl, 8 January 2008
Author: edchin2006 from Canada
Because a film may have some comedic elements it does not make it a
comedy or even a funny movie. We often have amusing scenes to "break
the tension" in "serious" ventures. This was neither of the above - not
a comedy; not a "serious" film.
Nor was this a Chambara film. There was swordplay, but the artistry of the blade was missing; and, there was but one scene where steel was drawn.
So, we are left with a story of a sheriff who comes to town, and cleans the place up. I mean Samurai. It's your typical Eastern-Western that holds no surprises and our hero never needs to reload his blade.
It could be that the collaboration of four of Japan's greatest directors makes this film a bit of this and a bit of that and a lot of disappointment.
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Engaging and amusing, though slightly disjointed., 7 July 2009
Author: El_Farmerino_Esq from United Kingdom
As a random pick from the shelves of a Japanese DVD store, largely
chosen simply on the basis of having English subtitles and the words
'Kon Ichikawa' in big roman letters, the list of names attached to
Dora-heita comes as quite a surprise, though it never really stacks up
against the best work of any of its four writers. Which is not to say
it's a bad film; far from it. It is, though, a rather uneven one...
The story is solid enough; Mochizuki Koheita is the newly appointed magistrate in a small rural fiefdom, sent to clean up the corrupt town of Horisoto in his own unorthodox way, facing off against a trio of gang bosses and the complacent and complicit council. In the lead, Koji Yakusho plays the part perfectly, making Koheita both genuinely likable and credibly hard-nosed. Support ranges from the fairly good to the utterly mediocre, though none of the actors come off too badly. The strongest scenes of the film are those set in the streets of Horisoto, Mochizuki's first visit to the slum being the most striking sequence in terms of visual flair. Elsewhere, there are a few great scenes; the visit to Nadahachi's abode in particular, despite the paint-by-numbers action scene that follows.
It's certainly a film with plenty to keep the viewer's attention, but it never really coagulates into a sleek, unified whole. There are problems with some of the comedy elements and with the Kosei character, both of which feel as though they were shoehorned in at the last minute, in the misguided fear of putting off viewers with too serious a story. In actual fact, it would probably be possible to cut Kosei out completely; contrary to expectations, she actually has no connection at any point to the main thread of the story, instead providing only a couple of laughs, an underwhelming brawl with some smugglers and a penultimate scene that errs the wrong side of ridiculous.
Still, it's entertaining enough, though it'd be best not to have too high expectations simply because of the names on the screenplay...
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