In 1868, after the end of the Bakumatsu war, the former assassin Kenshin Himura promises to defend those in need without killing. Kenshin wanders through Japan with a reverse-edged sword ... See full summary »
An indigenous clan-based people living in harmony with nature find their way of life threatened when violent interlopers from another culture arrive, intent on seizing their natural resources and enslaving them.
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
In 1868, after the end of the Bakumatsu war, the former assassin Kenshin Himura promises to defend those in need without killing. Kenshin wanders through Japan with a reverse-edged sword during the transition of the samurai age to the New Age. When Kenshin helps the idealistic Kaoru Kamiya from the gangsters of the powerful opium drug lord Kanryuu Takeda that wants her school for his production of opium, Kaoru invites Kenshin to stay in the school. But the drug chemist Megumi Takani escapes from Kanryuu and seeks shelter in the school. Meanwhile the killer Battosai is murdering police officers and leaving messages attached to their bodies. When Kanryuu poisons the population to get the school, Kenshin and the street fighter Sanosuke Sagara join forces to attack their common enemy. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tries a little too hard to pander to fans and risks alienating the rest of the audience as a result
I went to see this film last night with absolutely no knowledge of the manga upon which it was based, which was both a good and a bad thing. Good, because I understand how the average movie goer like myself will feel about this film. Bad, because I feel like as a fan of the original comic, I would have taken a lot more out of this film.
I'll start with the positives - this movie is beautifully filmed. There is not a single unattractive shot within it. I really feel like this movie was made for fans, by fans, because it is so lovingly crafted. The sets are gorgeous, the lighting and colour palette lovely, and the choreography of the fight scenes? FUN. It's actively enjoyable to watch Kenshin dance around with his sword. You actually believe that he is this extraordinary swordsmen, agile and swift.
Which brings me to Sato Takeru, who plays Kenshin himself. Again, I feel like he was a fan of the series, as he seems to be so invested in the role. I've no idea what the character of Kenshin was like in the manga, but Sato's portrayal is so layered and believable, I can't imagine it strays far. On that note, I felt like all of the actors did quite a good job. I've a friend who assures me the personalities of all the female characters do not line up with the manga, but I was actually completely satisfied with them! I was particularly enamored with Aoi Yu (whom I don't think has ever disappointed me in a role) who did her best with the script given to her in the role of Megumi.
But this brings me to what I felt were the weak points of the film. First, was the over inclusion of bit characters. I said this to friends afterwards, I'm sure if I was a fan of the series they would have been charming cameos from beloved fan favourites. As it is though, to me their inclusion seemed pointless, and stole time that could have been better spent on plot development.
And honestly, the plot for the film? A bit weak, and never properly fleshed out. A lot of characters who seem important to the story are never given proper motivations, leaving them seeming 2 dimensional - and the story as well, as a result. Particularly at the end, I feel like the storyline fell to pieces in a series of rushed character inclusions/fight scenes. This is the problem with a film made by fans for fans - while you can feel the love that's been poured into it, you can also see that they're trying too hard to put EVERYTHING in to a two hour film. These sort of films really suffer because they don't have someone ruthlessly eliminating the excess, and making the film more accessible to the public at large.
I read that they're hoping for an international release for this film, and I'm not terribly convinced that it will succeed. Fans of the original anime overseas will be at best a niche market (at least for the domestic release, there's a good chance the majority of the audience will have at best a passing familiarity with the series) and I feel like the rapid inclusion of bewildering useless characters will leave many in the audience feeling somewhat alienated.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, don't get me wrong, and I intend to seek out the manga as a result. However, I feel like they've pigeonholed themselves somewhat with their audience, if not so much domestically, then definitely abroad. However, if you can manage to be like me and just sit back and let the beautiful cinematography and Sato's truly excellent portrayal of Kenshin wash over you, you'll derive plenty of pleasure from this film.
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