While the wife and brother of a fallen Sword Master mourn his brutal slaying in a nearby village, Afro Samurai arrives to pay his respects and exact revenge on a rival Kabuki Warrior who ... See full summary »
Set in an alternate feudal Japan where mechas and giant airships are a common thing for humans to see. With in this time period is a small village that gets raided by bandits during every ... See full summary »
R. Bruce Elliott,
Gets cool-points for style but the story is so-so and the content prevents you getting lost in the slick presentation
Reading the reviews of others it seems that the Afro Samurai film is one that people tend to either love or hate and personally I can see both sides because I think that the film is somewhere in the middle as it is effective for what it is but not without problems. The first thing to note is that, as with the series proper, Afro Samurai delivers what the target audience are looking for with hip-hop, violence, cool animation and excessive fight sequences. It doesn't do it as well as the series does though and I think this is why some viewers will have been disappointed in it. I did like it but cannot ignore the problems that come with it.
It seems unreasonable to complain about the plot with a product such as this but it is hard not to in this instance. The film mould means that the plot is more obvious than in the series (where the overall quest was stretched out) and it is a bit daft, with zombies, cyborgs and the like all coming into play. The relationships and motivations are a lot more complex (confused?) as well and the downside of this is that the film feels cluttered and too busy to get involved in. It still works in regards creating action sequences though and this is where the film delivers. OK so the final fights are slightly spoilt by the robotic aspects but up till then there are plenty of attractive and stylish moments including one in a busy carnival that I found really well done.
It is not quite as cool as the series though because the use of music is not as good. The hip-hop comes and goes but is rarely used well. Also missing is, and I hate to use this phrase, the sense of "urban cool". The series felt "black", it felt tough it felt cool. Here that is not so much the case. Partly this is down to the plot line that tries to do something with the main character that the delivery cannot produce but the main thing is the way that Ninja Ninja is annoying. I know the point of him is that he talks so much but it is meant to annoy those within the film, not those of us watching. It didn't annoy in the series but his dialogue grates here. Credit to Jackson for doing it though because his cool presence is a good fit, but he pushes Ninja Ninja too far one way while taking Afro too far in the other by being too gruff. Liu, Hamill, Lowenthal and a few others all do good work but don't have the material to make a difference.
The Afro Samurai movie will mostly please those that have come for the style, since this is what it is all about. The plot negatively affects the film, almost getting in the way of the style and the flow rather than allowing it to happen. It still does enough to satisfy fans of the genre but it is not as enjoyable or as effective as the series was.
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