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From the Making-Of Documentary on the Special Edition DVD: - Total number of cuts: 1026 - Concept planning: 5 years - Number of days filming: 93 days - Number of days in post-production: 128 days - Location crew: 86 people - SFX crew: 31 people - CG integration staff: 37 people - Total number of crew: 154 people - Those who camped out for the first show: 400 people (at Nihon Gekijo Theater) - Number of theaters: 225 theaters - Number of viewers: 2.2 million people (as of Summer 2001) - Gross at box office: Approx. 3 billion yen (roughly $30 million USD) See more »
This film could have been fabulous, but rather weak direction and a mediocre budget drops it to the "Good" category in my book.
Its chief attraction is the wonderful world of Buddhist sorcery that it conjures up, sorcerers chanting macabre spells in contest with each other in chants of increasing tension and beauty. Central to the plot is the relationship of the enigmatic magician Abe no Seimei (Holmes) and his young "ii otoko" apprentice Minamoto no Hiromaki, strolling around Heian Kyoto solving mysterious magical crimes.
Abe no Seimei and all his graceful rituals is a joy to watch and hear. Mansai Nomura really get top acting chops here for creating a wonderfully wierd and brilliant magician with an unforgettable grin like a sly fox. His contests with the equally well acted Doson (Hiroyuki Sanada) are the heights of the film in my opinion.
There is so much wonderful magic in this film, it is hard to say why it is not totally satisfying. The costumes are brilliant, but many of the sets look a bit shoddy. The story starts out complex and mysterious but then sort of falls into one dimensional "end of the world" boredom. Nomura and Sanada are brilliant, but many of the other actors can be amateurish. Overall it was hard to put my finger on, but I blamed the direction and cinematography most. There just was so much here that could have made a masterpiece, but one left with mixed feelings.
Highly recommended though despite its flaws. If the idea of seeing 11th century Kyoto YinYang master magicians duel it out in all their occult glory fascinates you, don't miss this.
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