Onmyoji: The Yin Yang Master (2001)
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Most of that cool stems from the acting and, therefore, from the characters themselves; the former operating on multiple levels of "fantastic" and the latter managing to intrigue, amuse and inspire great fondness by the movie's conclusion. I think the main joy of watching Onmyouji is Nomura Mansai's stellar performance; you get the picture early on that he's the real deal. He moves like some otherworldly spirit gracing his audience with his at once delicate and wry presence; some sort of living embodiment of mono no aware with a smirking edge and quirky eyebrows. I felt instinctively that it was an honor just to be watching him on my living room TV.
Sanada Hiroyuki, while I felt sometimes that he'd stumbled onto the wrong set by accident and then figured "Hey, what the hell, maybe I'll get paid," delivered a wonderful performance as well. I was a fan of his before this movie, and I remain a fan.
The special effects and some of the stages may be a bit on the cheap side but part of me feels that it was an intentional super-awareness of the movie-as-a-stage. The whole film watched and felt like traditional Japanese theatre, and not just because of Nomura Mansai's traditional Japanese theatre aura. As some sort of wild throwback to Murasaki Shikibu's classic and the literary tropes of Heian court culture, this film is a definite winner. Listen not to the people who were expecting a grand and lavish cinematic spectacular; this movie wanted to look like a stage and so it created one, on which its excellent stage actors excelled.
Overall, Onmyoji is surprisingly a great example of modern japanese cinema. Great story, characters, I definitely want to see the sequel.
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.
Abe no Seimei who by far has just made my top ten list of characters I love,the actors bring there character to life. Not only that but for once the leads in the film are handsome. The plot only adds to this splendid movie, while it includes everything that someone would want in a film. From beginning to end I was captivated and enthralled. Slight reminders of the mummy returns, though they don't intend to show any.
It has it all from a cursed family to your angry evil spirits that take over the soldiers, unrequited love until its too late, a great love story, simply beautiful costuming, great music and of course you can't forget demons. The filming is clear and pristine, while lighting only adds to the appeal. The final fight while being not only being played out well, bridges that fine between overdone and short but sweet. Somewhere in all this wonder they have a great deal of character development and leave no big gaps to be filled. The only true question you will have is how quickly can I get this DVD delivered.
To people who not yet seeing this film....
It is a must see film.... you won't regret....trust me....
It's worthwhile to note that this was Nomura Mansai's first major film role, having come from a Noh background. He didn't overplay or stylize the way you might expect a Noh actor to do on film, but there was something not quite right about his performance... all the good things Jaida said I agree with, but I also felt like Nomura was standing outside and commenting on stuff. I suppose Sanada was guilty of it too. If that's the film's self-consciousness, it wasn't uniform. Perhaps it was a choice to represent these two sorcerers as standing outside human reality, but the other sorcerers didn't behave this way.
I'll have to watch it again to appreciate the cheesier effects as part of an intentional package. Again, though, the cheesiness wasn't uniform. Some of the effects were technically perfect and dazzling and just made the cheesy ones seem even cheesier.
I must say I didn't like Ito Hideaki's performance at all, except when he was doing things that didn't require him to speak. He's darned cute, and maybe he'll be an actor some day. On the other hand, Takita got a lot of bang for the buck from Koizumi Kyoko, yet another pop star turned actress, and a great performance from a real actress, Natsukawa Yui. She was awesome. I don't know why no one mentions her. I would have to say "Onmyoji" is a hell of a lot more feminist than "Genji Monogatari," and the feminism was on fire in Natsukawa's performance. Emoto Akira as her father was strangely not weird. He was good, but I've come to expect him to be weird and good. He was just Dad here.
Also, this just betrays my Nihon-eiga geekiness, Kishibe Ittoku is one of the better ex-rockstar actors in Japan. I'd love to see him carry a picture as a lead. I never recognize him from one role to the next, except for his voice, and in "Onmyoji," not even his voice gave him away. He's always fun to watch.
My Grade: B
Where i saw it: Showtime Beyond
The movie is a period piece, but it's arranged to look modern, and appeals to the young and old alike. Abe no Seimei (Mansai Nomura) must work in a society where supernatural forces were still part of its landscape. He is on call to solve supernatural problems that occurs to the nobilities of the time including the newly born emperor's son.
The movie is beautifully made. There aren't heavy action in this movie, but the entire story is a sequence of intriguing events. Abe no Seimei goes on a competition with another onmyoji, and proves that he's the top in his field. He's then sought after to solve mysterious occurrences around the palace.
Acting by Mansai Nomura is spot on as Abe no Seimei. Other actors are equally good in their supporting roles. Movie is shot beautifully, but lacks realism, and appears more like a fantasy.Seimei is an unusual hero who the closest equivalent might be Marvel's Dr. Strange. If you like mystic adventure, this movie is for you.
For those who don't watch very many foreign films, it may be a little hard to understand and follow along with the plot, it may not be a brilliant plot, but it is better than a few people have said on here. All in all it is a very interesting film about Japanese occult.
Saw it on: Showtime Beyond
When I caught this film on TV (Showtime, I believe), I was immediately drawn in. There are demons, Shinto-like priests, curses, spells, and impressive costume designs to entertain.
The story is basic-- a young well-to-do member of the court finds himself relying on help from an half-demon Onmyoji priest to protect the kingdom-- but the world of Onmyoji is fascinating and fun to watch. It's not everyday you get to watch people battle it out with chants and prayers, evil demons, and people can fly.
Despite a previous bad review, I recommend this film to anyone who has the opportunity to see it. It's a fantasy film, but the world of Onmyoji is compelling and will draw you in.
Its morning. I hear birds chirping outside. The cars are racing about to get to work. I'm getting ready to rent: ONMYOJI II.
Birds Birds Birds Tweet Tweet Tweet Birds Birds Birds Remembering southwest Colorado hiking in the middle of nowhere mind spread out body followed animal with machine
enjoyed the sound
surround in the evening this dream it seems moments of the day
I think the director just had an idea to do a costume movie about wizards with special powers. He got everything but a compelling story
The Good: The story is a fantastic one full of the universal themes of revenge and power vs love and forgiveness.
The Bad: Some of the special effects were good, but most of them looked really bad -- like a low budget film from the 70s. For a movie made in 2001, this is really inexcusable -- especially when you see what amateurs at home can accomplish in their free time. One character's pet bird makes a Jim Henson Muppet look realistic, and don't get me started on some props dropped right in front of the camera, provoking either eye rolling or laughter during what is supposedly a tense scene. It made a bad horror movie from any decade look like a masterpiece in comparison.
But I could even handle the awful effects/props if it wasn't for the acting. This is just depressing because I'm familiar with some of these actors' other work and they are talented and skilled, but you'd never know it watching this. Overacting abounds in this, especially during the last half hour of the movie, so much so I almost quit watching (and I regret not doing so). If you are debating on watching this, hope for a remake and move on until it comes.
Another big problem that is endemic of Japanese movies are these awful effects. I almost wonder if they make it look bad on purpose so it won't be so realistic and therefore less upsetting. But in this and at least Ichi the Killer, I saw effects that stopped me dead in my tracks to think "Geez, that is so cheap looking". I think it was Zatoichi that I stopped about 10 minutes in because of the silly effects. I can't take something seriously if the effects look like they were done with Silly Putty, Kool-Aid, and Microsoft Paint. When I think of Japan, I almost immediately think of technology so this makes no sense. If they're doing it on purpose, Stop It!
The story was okay I guess and the acting was passable. But I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. If you're the type who like sword fighting movies this isn't what you're looking for because there is only one scene like that and only one guy has a sword. It's really about magic, uninteresting magic at that.
ONMYOJI, or YIN YANG MASTER, looks a lot like a comic book rather than a movie. It's not to be taken seriously, and the whole thing is rather tame. More energy to the film as a whole would have been appreciated.
6 out of 10
(go to www.nixflix.com for a more detailed review of this movie and reviews of other foreign films)