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Directed by Tomoo Haraguchi "Kibakichi" is an entertaining piece of samurai goodness. Using a traditional Kurosawaesque plot, throwing some fantasy/horror elements, some decent amount of gore and you get 90 minutes of exploitation cinema with a moral. Fun stuff.
Samurai werewolf Kibakichi wonders into an old town populated by Yokai (Japanese demons) and aids them against the treacherous humans trying to destroy them. And there you have it, the plot in one sentence. Of course there's more to it, as first Kibakichi questions the morality of the Yokai(they eat humans). Must deal with some personal issues in a subplot that is left unresolved. Must be moved by the Yokai's peaceful ways (sort of) and the bond they share. Must decide to leave town. Must hear the evil human traitors arrive in town with their samurai and machine guns. Must go slaughter humans in full kill mode.
It's a fun film, a remainder of the 70s and 80s chambara flicks, where gore and fantasy elements mingled together creating some ludicrously fun action scenes. Choreography and sword play are decent enough and Haraguchi shot those scenes well enough. The gore is cheesy, blood fountains are cool, but it's the creature design that really shines. Reminiscent of the old monster movies, they are what sets Kibakichi apart and are really enjoyable in a B-movie kinda way. And did I mention machine guns? Yes I think I did, but for those of you not listening, there are machine guns here, more like mini-guns to be precise and that is so cool.
We can talk about acting, but that's not really a point in these kind of films. Yes you get this kind of in your face melodrama, but it's not all too unbearable plus the film isn't really marketed as an emotional experience. Otherwise the acting was fairly decent meaning it doesn't get all too annoying.
Although in it's core "Kibakichi" is a cheesy samurai/monster film, it does tackle the issue of racism well enough. Specifically racism in Japanese society which, let's face it, even today is obviously present with foreigners and Japanese of mixed blood living in Japan don't get always get equal treatment.
If you're in the mood for a high powered, kick ass, samurai exploitation flick, then Kibakichi is a good recommendation. Tomoo Haraguchi did well with this film, here's hoping the sequel is as good as this one
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