Aragami (2003) Poster

(2003)

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One week wonder
FilmFlaneur4 November 2004
Made in one set, with three principal actors, and over seven days, Aragami impresses far more than the more immature Versus. Setting himself the task of shooting an action movie in one room (itself a possible contradiction in terms) the constraints ultimately make for a much more satisfying and engrossing experience than his previous, overrated breakthrough film - which was too carelessly off the wall and derivative to impress this viewer. As a project Aragami also contrasts strongly with the much more opened out Azumi (another personal favourite), which replaced the gloomy interiors and philosophising of Aragami with something much more kinetic and light hearted.

At heart Aragami is a film about knowing who you are, and both Osawa (who has since appeared in the less concentrated Sky High) and Masaya Kato are excellent in roles which, like chamber music, leave every flaw in performance likely to be exposed. Obviously written at speed, the film's pay off could have been more enlightening (but perhaps a touch of obscurity in this sort of thing is a benefit, especially at a time when Hollywood genre efforts typically feel obliged to spell everything out), but fans won't argue too much and interpretations are easy to make. The wonder of the film is that the director was able to stage and direct two action scenes - one short, one more extended - with such gusto and convincing moves, given the tight shooting schedule and limitation of the set, while still allowing himself time for empathetic set ups during slower moments. It requires the ingenuity and confidence of a Roger Corman to bring this thing off, raising such stuff above straight-to-video fodder, and Kitamura succeeds magnificently.

Ignore those who claim the film is 'too talky', for none of the chat is wasted (there's none of the narrative indulgence seen in the recent Sky High, for instance), the actors have enough presence to carry it off, and time spent with them never palls. Over 79 minutes nothing drags, and the changing relationship between the samurai and the goblin provide constant interest. The developing duel between the two principals neatly reflects back to the friendly rivalry between Kitamura and his fellow director Tsutsumi which originally initiated the film. If you are tired of bloated Hollywood mega-buck productions and want to get back to the basics of purposeful dialogue, imaginative stageing and thought-through editing - in short, lean, popcorn pumping cinema - then this is a film you need to see.
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10/10
"Ninja stars are for losers"
niz29 April 2003
The director of VERSUS is back, and this time he gives us an old-school samurai sword-fighting flick. ARAGAMI was apparently made in 7 days as a challenge with a fellow director. Its minimalistic to the extreme: 3 actors, one big room as the only location, a plot structure as simple as it gets: dialogue - fight - dialogue - fight - dialogue - fight. And what fights! They're as hyper-kinetic, exciting and fun as the dialogue is bizarre & funny. ARAGAMI is 100& crowd-pleasing action. This one deserves to be a big international hit.
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9/10
A wild ride without ever leaving the room
Company_of_Wolves21 July 2005
When both Ryuhei Kitamura and Yukihiko Tsutsumi finished their short films for the Jam anthology early, their producer gave them something new to try. In the space of one week they were each to produce a film, using only two man characters, one location and it had to be focused around a fight. This was called the "Duel" project.

Kitamuras film was "Aragami". The title meaning "fierce deity", and the story revolving around a demon who seeks an opponent who can beat him in combat, taking a wounded samurai in and healing him so that they can face of in a climatic battle. The story, essentially being a simple good versus evil affair was very well done. At times it's hard to tell if one of them is evil, or if they both are in fact evil. And there are enough plot twists to keep your attention throughout this whole suspense filled feature.

Try as I might, I find it almost impossible to find anything to complain about with this film, it really is something amazing. It's a very atmospheric film. Kitamura makes excellent use of light to make the temple look suitably dark and mysterious. From flickering candle light, to eerie purple light flooding in from the night outside, to breath taking lighting that gleams from swords classing in the dark. "Aragami" is a very beautifully shot film, with excellent use of camera angles and not just during the fight scenes. But he made superb use of it to highlight both characters persona throughout.

The use of music was also really well done in this film. At times it heats up the action speeding your heartbeat, at other times it helps establish a more calm mood. During the final battle the use of sound makes it seem like we are almost on a roller coaster. The protagonists feelings of suspicion at the beginning is not only conveyed through acting, but through the music that accompanies his realisations. The use of music is possibly most notable when it helps reinforce the almost friendship that the two of them forge over their drinks and conversation.

Both of the main characters were very well acted, which for some reason I was surprised at. Perhaps it was the depth of the acting that did it for me. Or how quickly they were able to change the mood, and focus of the conversation. At one point the Aragami seems very evil and dark, but in a matter of a few words the focus is shifted onto the protagonist, making him appear as a cold and heartless monster. This was very well done, and very believable. You really get the feeling that the Aragami is bored, ancient and somewhat noble.

The only problems I can find with this film, is that it does have an incredibly slow pace up until the much anticipated climatic battle. Perhaps this was intentional, as to make us more desperate to see them tear into each other but I felt it wasn't very well done. For most of the film the two of them are just sitting there talking over drinks, and while this is well acted there isn't enough action to excite us until the finale.

Kitamura teases us with a little bit of a fight early one, but it's not until the end that we finally see one of his trademark epic battles. Which in itself could have been better, it wasn't as fast as his other films. Perhaps due to the "Anime" posing the characters did while the talked to each other during the fight. If they had just tore into each other in a brutal show of skill the film would have been so much better.

Some slight issues with the pace of the movie, but in all a very well made and entertaining film. And for anyone who has seen "Versus", you're bound to chuckle a little when you see the ending.

8.5/10
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9/10
Pretty Cool
rstehli7 October 2004
Yeah this movie is about the Aragami, who is immortal, and his quest for death. He tricks a warrior into becoming immortal as well, and they fight it out. 1 room, two actors, many fights. A very cool movie, maybe not quite up to par with this director's other work, but still fun to watch. The plot is surprisingly well developed, but some ideas in the fights are recycled from other films. While the movie starts out slow, it actually has a plot that you can understand, unlike many Japanese movies that deal with any type of mythology. I guess you could call the movie serious, but it has a sense of humor and is just made to be entertaining. If I had to compare it to an American movie I would say... Mortal Kombat without any stupid catch phrases or comic relief. I mean, its a barebones story as an excuse to have two sweet characters fight each other. And honestly, it was made in a week.
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7/10
Great film-making experiment!
Director Ryuhei Kitamura, now famous thanks to the big success of "Versus" and "Azumi", was challenged to make this experimental film in an odd bet with producer Shinya Kawai and fellow filmmaker Yukihiko Tsutsumi. Named the "Duel" project, Kawai challenged the two filmmakers to each create a feature length movie with only two actors, battling in one setting and filmed entirely in one week. With those restrictions limiting the development of a film, a challenge like that sounds insane; but Kitamura succeeds and delivers a film of almost the same caliber as "Versus".

In Kitamura's film, two wounded samurais arrive to a lost temple in the mountains looking for a place to rest. Later, one of them awakes fully healed and is welcomed by the only priest in the temple. He introduces himself as Aragami (Masaya Kato), the God of Battle, and informs the samurai (Takao Osawa) that he healed his wounds, but had to kill his companion to do it. His purpose: to have a duel to death with the samurai.

The movie moves around the showdown, not only physical, but also philosophical between these two warriors; with fluid camera-work that mimics the style of Manga comic books, Kitamura keeps the film moving despite being set entirely in the main room of the temple. This stylish use of the camera really is one of the film's strongest points, as it makes the set look different even when they never change of room.

The characters are very well defined and thanks to a very good developed script, they never let the movie fall. Just like the visuals, the writing is very similar to those of Manga, and one could say that this is exactly how a Manga would look if it were translated frame by frame to screen. While at times the movie drags, it is understandable that a lot of effort was put to make it entertaining even when it's only about two people talking and fighting.

Masaya Kato gives a powerful performance as Aragami, a being beyond man's understanding and with fighting skills perfected through centuries of practice. He really becomes his character and truly makes one belief that he has seen a lot in his life. At the same time, Osawa is very good as the samurai, confused by all what is happening and whose only desire is to get out of the temple alive. Both actors excel in their performances, specially considering the limited freedom they had to work with. In fact, it is thanks to their performances that the script makes the the movie work.

The visual beauty of the duel between the warriors is another one of the movie's strong points. Kitamura knows very well how to put action on films as fans of "Versus" will acknowledge. In "Aragami", he mixes the old with the modern in a stylish surrealist duel that mimics the fight between the two samurais. However, if a flaw is to be found, is that the use of modern music at times contrasts with the intentions of the film, nevertheless, it never becomes a real problem.

While "Aragami" is nowhere near what Kitamura accomplished with the outstanding "Azumi", it still is a very good and different movie that shows the creativity of this director; that he is not afraid of taking risks; and that in fact, like the raging God of Battle, he enjoys a good challenge. 7/10
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Perfect fight scene
Mauritt25 November 2004
The greatest scene you can have in any movie is the final showdown. That last moment, when all the events that have happened throughout the entire film (or films) come together in one glorious climatic battle between the hero and the villain. As a great lover of the final showdown I am disappointed that so few films actually get it right. Films like "Yojimbo", "Dark City", and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" are among those rare exceptions when the level of build-up is more than matched by the moment of confrontation.

Then there's Aragami, which is essentially one long final showdown. And what an incredible showdown it is. I loved Kitamura's previous film, Versus, for it's none stop excitement and entertainingly over-the-top violence. But Aragami is simple, two characters in a room who must and will fight to the death. This

scenario may not seem compelling, but Kitamura somehow manages to keep

the energy buried just beneath the surface of all the character's actions. I felt tense throughout the entire film. I wanted to see the two men fight. But Kitamura kept me waiting for as long as possible, until it was almost to much to take. Then, he delivered on his promise and created one of the most exciting and

thoroughly satisfying showdowns I know of. Much like when I saw Versus, I left the theater energized, unlike most American action films, which just leave me feeling exhausted and worn-out.
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10/10
Ryuhei Kitamura's 7 day Movie! With AMAZING STYLE
aznraverb0ii30 July 2004
I Love this movie. The story was a bit confusing but either then that the movie was near perfect.

The action was very well choreographed and was not Very over the top like MGSTTS but it was still Over the top action considering how Samurai Films are made nowadays.

There was this one part that amazed me were the Temple was all dark and all you can see of them was when the swords collide that was sooo coool. And i love the soundtrack. If you loved the soundtrack from all his other movies then you would love this soundtrack.
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Samurai Vs God Of Battle In A Stylish Setting.
BigHardcoreRed7 June 2005
Aragami is Ryuhei Kitamura's film which was shot with a few rules in some sort of Japanese Director's Challenge (The other was Yukihiko Tsutsumi's 2LDK). Some rules were that the films must be of feature length and shot within one week (Aragami was filled in 8 days). The movie must take place within one room with 2 competitors fighting to the death.

Originally, I found out about this movie after watching 2LDK and found out about this challenge. I thought it was an interesting concept and would like to see how some of today's American directors could tackle such a project. Although I liked 2LDK, Aragami was simply the better movie. At times, the style and dialog (or lack of) reminded me of something from Quentin Tarantino.

The very basic plot is that Aragami (Masaya Kato), who, incidentally, is the God of Battle, challenges a samurai (Takao Osawa) to a fight to the death. Aragami is tired of living and can not commit suicide nor die of old age or other natural causes. He must be killed in battle, as he is the God of Battle. He immortalizes the samurai by feeding him his deceased friend's liver and the fight was on.

Surprisingly, this basic plot did not seem to drag on for too long and was just about the right length. The fight scenes, mostly involving swords, were pretty good and at times, the dialog was humorous. This is a good recommendation if you know what you are getting yourself into.
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7/10
Interesting, but flawed.
MiloMindbender9 February 2004
I saw this movie at the SF Indie Film fest which presented this & Yukihiko Tsutsumi's 2LDK back-to-back and the audience got to vote on which was the better of the 2. As has been noted, the directors of both of these films stayed up late one night drinking @ Berlin Film fest & dared each other to a duel. The terms of the duel: make a film about a duel involving 2 characters that takes place in one setting and shoot it in 7 days.

Unfortunately, TsuTsumi had back problems and was unable to attend, but Kitamura was present & introduced the film. He said Tsutsumi had called him a few months after the pact & asked him how his project was going & took him entirely off-guard as he was working on Ozumi & hadn't done anything. So he wrote Aragami very quickly & used it as a way to help prepare for Ozumi. The theme is very interesting, A samurai runs into an old temple in the mountains w/ his buddy & both are near death. One of the samurai's survives by the help of the temple's resident, who is somewhat of a mystery (is he a samurai? priest? doctor?).

Without revealing too much of the plot, the surviving samurai is led into a duel with him & it becomes clear that defeating the temple's mysterious resident is beyond his abilitites as a samurai. The plot (with the exception of the ending) was extremely good & there were some really good moments of rapport between the 2. The film's main theme of war & a warrior's duty/calling is not new, though the way it evolves in this film is quite interesting. Most notable is the way the film shows how homoerotic desire/affection underlies much hand-to-hand combat (i.e. sublimating a desire that is unspoken by attempting to kill the desired). However, this theme is not as well developed as the overall theme. As a result, the ending feels a bit like a cheap shot, a rather hurried attempt at a clever ending, than something that evolves well from the characters' sparring (both verbal & in actual action). Despite this, the ending does present an interesting take on the subject of war & those who are willing to fuel the fire. Those who really come to these films for the action sequences might be a bit disappointed, as the action sequences in this film are short & comprised of extremely quick takes, though there is an interesting sequence that uses flash images of the fighting giving it a strobe effect.

Other problems I had with the film were the setting, lighting & sound. The movie took place in a rather odd temple w/ cheesey buddha artifacts. It looked more like more like Disney Park room (if it were created in the 1980s) version of a Japanese Temple complete with dark colored lighting (heavy on red & blue). The light & sound affects in the film (rain, lightning, etc.) also gave the film an artificial feel, making it look almost like some of Fassbinder's films (i.e. Berlin Alexanderplatz), however the distancing affect it creates on the viewer, didn't really seem to add to the film's theme any. The director did state that he was more influenced by the Hollywood films of the 70s & 80s that he watched while growing up, than by martial arts films.

Most distracting, though, was the film's electronica background music, which became very repetitious & annoying at times, as it really detracted from the dialogue between the 2 characters. The heavy metal music at the end, perhaps wasn't as out of place as the electronica, given the ending, but was also pretty annoying & felt like overkill. Overall I'd give it a 7/10....with more time, attention & money this one could have been quite exceptional. But unfortunately the director has quite a lot going on (a re-issue of Versus with new scenes, Versus 2 & Godzilla) & so the rushed job that it was really did seem to affect its quality.

I did not get to stay to see who won the duel, but judging by how many people were going to the 2LDK ballot box, I think the votes mirror the imdb rating....2LDK is the winner (and that is my feeling too).
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10/10
Brilliance in 7 Days
Brooke18 January 2005
Being a Kitamura fan already, I came into this film with somewhat high expectations. After seeing it twice, I can say they fulfilled every one. The dialogue between Takao Osawa (the Samurai) and Masaya Kato (Musashi Miyamoto) carried this film as did the brilliantly choreographed sword play. In comparison to Kitamura's previous films: Versus and Alive, the female role played by Kanae Uotani speaks volumes in her lack of dialogue. Her mystery only adds to the plot, leaving much to the imagination. For only one set, the temple is quite possibly the most unique characteristic of the entire film. Its almost Gothic flair helps touch on the western and/or European influences that play a huge role in this film. I highly recommend Aragami, it's unlike any samurai film I've ever seen! 10/10!
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3/10
Cheap action flick to satisfy the Western appetite
8thSin6 May 2009
I really liked the story in this movie, of mysterious beings that existed in the world and the night they spent before the showdown. However, it turned out to be just another action B-movie plagued by poor acting and story development.

I should've known from the English opening credits that this movie would be a joke made for the foreign audience though. I can just see it now, these directors and producers discussing this film in a meeting. "Subtlety doesn't work for foreigners, let's have Oosawa Takao over-react to everything." "They like CG, let's add an unnecessary space scene to it." "They liked VERSUS, let's get Tak to appear in the end"...

Katou Masaya's performance as Aragami was pretty impressive. He seemed to be really into the character and portrayed the mysterious character and its motive very well. Oosawa Takao though, I know is a much better actor from other films.

This film's action wasn't bad, but nothing out of ordinary. It was clearly produced in a rush and little attention to details. The Aragami's speech, for example, ended sentences with "...Ja" in beginning of the movie, which is what barbaric men say in Japanese, but he practically stopped it altogether in the second half of the movie for no reason. Such abrupt change in speech pattern is a proof of poor production. A nice stab at the Dual Project Challenge, but ultimately a good script wasted.
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8/10
Delivers
K_Todorov30 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Ryuhei Kitamura's entry for the "Duel" project is a 70 minute samurai movie taking place in an old abandoned temple.

It's a slow opening build up. Two men, one a wounded samurai, the other a mysterious monk living in a forgotten temple spend their time in conversation, waiting for the storm outside to end . Their backgrounds and motives become apparent establishing "who" are these two men and setting up the scene of confrontation between them. Unlike most other movies this one lacks a clear antagonist, the two leads are described as men of honor each with his own different point of view. So when their duel begins it becomes even more effective as it is not just choreography and camera works that makes the battle good but also because both these men are likable. Kitamura's decision to keep the battle for the final part of the film proves to be a correct one, as tension builds up between the two leads with each and every revelation, setting their motivation for whats coming.

Considering that the whole movie took place in just one room, the fight scene was pretty impressive with Kitamura demonstrating some very nice camera-work, following the swordplay in an almost perfect rhythm. The choreography is also top notch once again proving that Kitamura is able to create memorable and stylish fight scenes without the necessarily needed high budget. Considering that the whole battle took place in just one room. The ending while a bit too similar to that of "Versus" fits the story's direction nicely with a ironic "the hunted becomes the hunter" type finale.

"Aragami" is not an over the top, high-paced, non-stop as "Versus" instead it relies more on character to set it's tone for the finale. And with just about the right length so that it doesn't begin to drag on too much, Ryuhei Kitamura's Aragami is a very enjoyable samurai film.
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8/10
Duel project success
Creedonjj3 May 2006
Aragami the demon god of battle, is one of the most awe inspiring samurai films ever created. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura Aragami is an action packed adventure and will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.

During Japans medieval period many wars were waged many men died; however one samurai is about to engage in a duel that could be the end of his existence or the beginning of a new life. When two samurai seeking refuge from a great battle stumble upon an old temple they had no idea what they were getting themselves into, days later one of the Samurai (Takao Osawa) awakes to find that his friend has died and he learns a dark secret about his host the eccentric Miyamoto Musashi (Masaya Kato).

The cinematography for Aragami is unlike anything I have ever seen, the combination of dark lighting and splashes of vibrant color make this film one of the most interesting samurai movies in existence.

I enjoyed this film very much and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys samurai movies another fun fact about this film is that it was filmed in 7 days as part of a challenge to create a feature length film with 1 setting in 7 days called the Duel project.
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8/10
Stylish piece of work. Get a lot from a little.
dennisyoon27 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Cool dance music + Cool demonic atmosphere + Cool kung fu type Swordplay = Nice little Samurai campfire story made into a film. If you enjoy martial arts and the supernatural done in a manga/anime style, you'll have a blast.

No it's not Akira Kurosawa, more like Onimusha the video game. (The director also worked on the video game Metal Gear Solid the Twin Snakes.) Enjoy the hairstyles and the wisecracks. Little smirks go a long way. Ninja stars really wouldn't do against a sword would they? Imagine an acid trip of a Samurai tall tale. You get the picture.

The dialog had me in stitches at times as well as the expressions on the faces. Masaya Kato the "Aragami" steals the show. You can tell he had a good time being Samurai/Demon/Comic. Already a cult film in my view. More movies like this please!
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7/10
hidden wonder
levich1221 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed this flick. I came in with no expectations and I never watched Versus, but the concept of this film was very intriguing to me (looked it up on IMDb).

A severely wounded samurai seeks shelter at a temple which unbeknownst to him is the temple of the demon Aragami who wishes to die in combat via our unwary samurai.

The conversation is exactly what you would imagine it to be between a man and a being proclaiming to be supernatural. Skepticism and disbelief is played well in here and the scene is great. This is all shot in one room in a dark slightly tainted sort of Buddhist temple. The fact that this movie was shot in only one week is amazing (although if they had spent more time on it it could easily have been better as it is not without its flaws).

The slightly creepy serving woman is the only other real character we have on screen and she only has a few words to say at the end. What I really wonder is who she is as perhaps she is Aragami after all and she just enthralls/seduces warriors so she can watch battle after battle? I wish they played that possibility up just a tiny bit more, adding perhaps some covetous looks throughout on the samurais side and more coyness/ seductive possibilities on her part.

My only real issues with this film was that it seemed to get a little rushed at the end. The major fight could should have been done better and had slight elements of cheesy stances which were unrelated to the fighting. Also the last warrior, the future attacker could have been cooler looking. I did like the fact that our protagonist seemed to be crazy at that point (which still stands to reason that the woman is really Aragami after all). Also, the electric guitar music at the end seemed out of place. I would have liked a more philosophical ending versus one that makes you think you just finished watching your average action movie.

Summary: Very entertaining story built upon Chinese (really any ethnic background) mythology with only 2.5 actors (the woman gets a 1/2 a count since shes more just a visual portion). I just wish 2 weeks was spent on this as it could have been on a whole new level. Either way, I'd definitely recommend this.
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5/10
Aragami is not for me
chrichtonsworld29 January 2007
Maybe I missed something. We have two men,one woman in one building. One man is a samurai and the other admits being a demon. First they eat and drink and talk. Nothing wrong with that. Until the samurai is asked by the demon,(war god) to kill him because he is tired. The samurai refuses since he doesn't believe him. After a short fight he finally believes him and accepts the demon's request. Now this promises a wonderful duel between the two. I must admit, I saw some good action. In my opinion it wasn't intense enough. When they fight,there are to many breaks in between that ruin the pace of the movie. And that is a bad thing because the pace is to slow from the start. There is nothing wrong with dialog. But for me this wasn't interesting enough. And I could forgive this if the action sequences would have been better,but that was not the case. Judging by the other reviews this movie is a masterpiece! I disagree. I just don't have the patience to watch a movie like this.
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9/10
Ryuhei Kitamura - can't be bad, can it?
scobbah8 November 2005
When you're preparing yourself to tune in to a Ryuhei Kitamura movie, you know that the experience will be intense, original and it will most likely make you hunger for more. I am a fan of this director and 'Aragami' didn't disappoint me. The plot were at first quite mystic to me when reading it, but I got caught up fast with the plot once the movie had started. Kitamura's movies in my humble opinion often have great dialogs but 'Aragami' has something beyond this - the dialogs are superb. Anyone doubting in Japanese movies should give this a try if you have a special liking about samurais and mystical magics. Another great reason to not give Hollywood a second thought. This movie quickly turns out to be one amongst my favorite Kitamura movies. 9/10!
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6/10
Highlander - The Japanese version
athena2421 February 2006
First of all, I must say that I watched this movie just because of the director. To be precise, because of Azumi. I loved that movie so much that I wanted to see his other work. Though Aragami is far better than Versus ( I just wasn't able to finish watching it), it is Azumi that reveals Ryuhei Kitamura's talent.

Plot Outline: A severe injured samurai saved by the God of Battle, while the latter wishes to be killed by the hand of the samurai.

Aragami is definitely a stylish movie. It is well done in nearly every aspect, including the set, acting, camera work, sound, music and of course the sword-fight choreography. Even the idea of the whole movie taking place in a temple, gives Aragami a certain style.

What this movie lacks is substance. Although Aragami is very short, nothing really is going on. Mostly there are talks vaguely revealing us what is happening, with some philosophy in them, and partly fighting. Clearly there are a lot of questions rising throughout the movie about the identity of the characters ( who they really are, and how they became like this?) , or their motives ( I still don't understand why did Aragami wanted to die ). Maybe there is some substance that I didn't grasp though I doubt it. I just think that the director wanted to make a "cool" movie.

Overall I wasn't much excited about Aragami, but I wasn't disappointed too much either.
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6/10
Needed to cut down on the uneventful talk for tighter entertainment.
mylimbo11 October 2005
Two wounded samurai fleeing from their enemy end up at a remote temple in the mountains. Two days later one of the samurai (Takao Osawa) awakes to find out his friend is dead, but he's healed. The owner (Masaya Kato) of the temple invites the warrior to stay the night to have some drinks before leaving. During their discussions it comes clear that the host is not a mere mortal but a powerful demon named Aragami, the god of battle, and he has been fighting all who enter the temple for centuries. So now begins the challenge for the young samurai.

Well, the film doesn't have a whole lot to offer, really. It felt rather disjointed at times and that's probably because it was made in seven days. It's incredibly slow and fairly padded with a lot of ponderous dialogue and quiet stretches. The plot is really nothing much, with it basically about two warriors stashing it out from sharp conversations about themselves, or on morals on war and the sizzling sword fights between them eat up the scenery. When it comes to the superbly choreographed battle sequences, which are exciting and slickly done, you know why you stuck through the thick amount talk and slow beginning to begin with. The climax that it slowly builds up to is well done and in creditably effective. Sound performances are given by Kato and Osawa. The dominating temple is what hits you straight away with a fairly Gothic take with a lot of dark tones and dim lighting within. Also, the stylish photography totally stood out, but not everything worked out or fitted in perfectly. Some touches involving the script, the plot retreading old ground, pacing for this type of film (especially since it's only 70mins long) and soundtrack felt odd, but hey that's probably just me? Oh, by the way I did enjoy the moments of humour, especially the black humour that was evident. It's a fair effort by director Ryuhei Kitamura.

Just don't be expecting a fully blown action film, but also don't expect anything too meaningful, as you will be fully disappointed if so. Although, if your looking for something completely different you can't go wrong here. It's a very simple plodded film and nothing more.
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8/10
Sensational
Kodiak30 January 2006
I loved this film.

I loved the dialogue

I loved the combat sequences

I loved the set.

Do yourself a favour and see it the way it was meant to be seen, back to back with 2LDK. Aragami is obviously the better movie, but together you can see the results of the competition between the directors.

And as was said below, I would love to see what 2 Hollywood (or in my case Australian) directors could come up with.

A great journey.. strongly recommended
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5/10
Enjoyable short manga style live action film set in medieval Japan...
Joe7 March 2006
This film was apparently one of two films set on the premise to be made about two people to fight in a single setting with only one to live on (along those lines anyhow). Markedly different to its peer, which was essentially about two girls in a cat fight in their modern apartment, this film is set in an old medieval temple where the host to an injured soldier turns out to be not the welcoming gentleman he at first seemed.

This short film builds up to the battle scene between the host and the guest, with manga style movement, music and camera work. Nauseating at times, it is quite intriguing, and out-Tarantino's Quentin himself. Yet there is really no storyline, and the director could have done better if he didn't have any of the modern MTV music playing, but left it more Mediaeval.

Overall, it is nothing special although not too bad either, but really there is little to talk about the hour or so of this. Good ideas, but a little less ambition could have done it a whole world of good. I guess though that the PS2 generation will lap it up more than the rest of us (has a very strong video game feel to it).
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5/10
2LDK wins! Hands-down!
Maz Murdoch (asda-man)28 January 2013
If truth be told (ooh I sound Welsh!) I didn't really want Aragami. Now I don't want to offend the film, it's just that I'd never heard of it and it came with the film that I was interested in called 2LDK (which was knock-out by the way!) It turns out that Aragami was part of something called the Duel Project where two Japanese directors decided to have a battle, making a film using only two main characters, in one set, shot over one week. It's an extremely interesting premise and one that us Westerner's are used to, seeing that Hollywood often shoves exotic locations and several big-billed names into a film! After reading some hype for Aragami I was genuinely interested in seeing it and seeing which one would win the duel for me.

Well, as you can gather from my score, Aragami was not a patch on 2LDK; however that isn't to say that it's a bad film. Aragami is an interesting one, but one that I feel is bloated. Aragami's characters weren't as great as 2LDK's. What made 2LDK so compelling was that the characters were interested and you care about the fight, despite that fact that neither of them are particularly likable. Even with a character to root for in Aragami I still didn't feel as interested in the characters or the fight. Perhaps this was due to the lengthy and slow dialogue scenes which held the film down, especially as we're expecting a fight to the death like the DVD promises. Now, 2LDK did also have a lot of dialogue for the first half hour, but it was brewing with tension and suspense, building up anticipation for the ultimate cat fight.

Aragami's dialogue scenes seemed long for the sake of trying to fill up a feature length film. The characters were also pretty stereotypical and aside for a few good moments (notably the reveal of Aragami and the picking of the weapons) you ultimately just want to jump straight into the duel! Now the duel itself is very enjoyable. The action is shot incredibly fast and is almost Tarantino-esque in Kill Bill. It also felt even more thrilling, as it juxtaposed the placid camera movement and few shots that were in the dialogue scenes. However, I did feel that the fight in 2LDK was even better, being that the weapons were innovative, and the characters more interesting.

Aragami is basically a sword fight. Although the fantasy element does make the battle more interesting, offering us something a little more unique. I also thought that the pitch-black sword fight with only the lightening outside and the clashes of the sword creating light was very creative and visually exciting. The ending was also quite interesting, but I did have the feeling of too little, too late when the duel did finally commence and I think that it should've made more creative use of its environment like 2LDK did. Additionally, I really did not like the music which sounded like the incidental music on TV's 'Gay Rabbit' which I have never looked at (shifty eyes).

2LDK wins for me, but I suppose it's just a matter of taste. If you're into your martial arts then Aragami will be a masterpiece for you. However, I think that the film would've made a much pacier short film, rather than being stretched to feature length and feeling belated. There simply isn't enough narrative drive or interesting characters to fill 1hr 15mins. However, I can think of worse ways to spend your evenings and it really is a master-class in directing and editing. It doesn't have the re-play value of 2LDK, but that's not to say that I won't be watching again over the course of my life.
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5/10
Versus light
kosmasp15 September 2010
The story is just another take on Versus, a movie previously done by Kitamura. There is nothing new here and it's pretty talky. While that is not a bad thing per se, there is nothing in the dialogue that makes it really worth while. And as mentioned, we have seen this better in "Versus" before.

You could say it's a bit of curse for Kitamura. But I do wonder, why he chose to make his part in the "Dual Project" (two movies by Japanese directors with the same starting premise, the other being 2LDK), a Versus copy, instead of coming up with an original idea. It would have benefited much. I do know though, that some people did like the dialogue and some people here, like the fight scenes too. The latter are good no question, but you have to endure quite a bit of dreadful "nothing happening" until you get to those. The movie is definitely too long
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1/10
What crap!
Rackham (Marubatsu)26 October 2004
This film was abysmal. It was so abysmal and such a waste of time that I at first decided not to waste even more time on writing a comment, but upon realising the lack of proper critique of this film, I decided to make possible future viewers a favour.

This is not an action film, it is not an intelligent film. It would be unfair to say that it is somewhere in between; yes, it does fail to be any of the two, yet it also completely fails to be an interesting mix of the two. The result is truly bland. This seems to me a 15-year old's image of intellectualism and just general "coolness". If the director wanted this movie to be taken seriously, why is Aragami's hair dyed red? Just one of those stupid details which makes no sense, other than adding "coolness".

No, I have nothing against action movies, nothing against intellectual movies, nothing against Japanese movies and I would say I usually do not have anything against samurai movies either. So... trust me. Just don't waste your time on this movie.
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