Ancient Japan. Fleeing from enemies, two wounded samurai arrive at a strange old temple in a remote location in the mountains. The doors to the place are opened by a beautiful and exotic woman, who beckons them inside. Unable to walk any further, they collapse from exhaustion. One of the samurai awakens to find himself miraculously healed. He meets his savior, a mysterious man who tells him that his friend died from his wounds. The samurai is persuaded to stay the night. His host tells him the legend of the "Tengu", a goblin which is said to reside in the mountains dining on the flesh of men. He goes on to reveal the true name of the Tengu : Aragami. When the samurai asks if Aragami poses a threat to the temple, his host answers : "I am Aragami". The only way for the Samurai to leave the temple is to destroy Aragami.Written by
Yukihiko Tsutsumi and Ryûhei Kitamura each finished their contributions to the short film anthology Jam Films (2002) in record time. As a result producer Shin'ya Kawai gave the two directors a proposal to each create a feature length movie with only two actors, battling in one setting and filmed entirely in one week. The undertaking was called the Duel Project. This was Ryuhei Kitamura's result and Yukihiko Tsutsumi's 2LDK (2003). See more »
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Maybe I'll Die Tomorrow
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Interesting, but flawed.
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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