A detective hunts a killer who is removing girls hearts. When his own fiancée falls victim to the killer, the detective discovers the otherworldly intentions of the killer and is helped from beyond the grave by his fiancée.
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Alexander Von David
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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 saviour, 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 »
To gain power beyond what is physically possible, the best thing is to eat a human liver.
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Made in one set, with three principal actors, and over seven days, Aragami impresses far more than the more immature Versus. Setting himself the task of shooting an action movie in one room (itself a possible contradiction in terms) the constraints ultimately make for a much more satisfying and engrossing experience than his previous, overrated breakthrough film - which was too carelessly off the wall and derivative to impress this viewer. As a project Aragami also contrasts strongly with the much more opened out Azumi (another personal favourite), which replaced the gloomy interiors and philosophising of Aragami with something much more kinetic and light hearted.
At heart Aragami is a film about knowing who you are, and both Osawa (who has since appeared in the less concentrated Sky High) and Masaya Kato are excellent in roles which, like chamber music, leave every flaw in performance likely to be exposed. Obviously written at speed, the film's pay off could have been more enlightening (but perhaps a touch of obscurity in this sort of thing is a benefit, especially at a time when Hollywood genre efforts typically feel obliged to spell everything out), but fans won't argue too much and interpretations are easy to make. The wonder of the film is that the director was able to stage and direct two action scenes - one short, one more extended - with such gusto and convincing moves, given the tight shooting schedule and limitation of the set, while still allowing himself time for empathetic set ups during slower moments. It requires the ingenuity and confidence of a Roger Corman to bring this thing off, raising such stuff above straight-to-video fodder, and Kitamura succeeds magnificently.
Ignore those who claim the film is 'too talky', for none of the chat is wasted (there's none of the narrative indulgence seen in the recent Sky High, for instance), the actors have enough presence to carry it off, and time spent with them never palls. Over 79 minutes nothing drags, and the changing relationship between the samurai and the goblin provide constant interest. The developing duel between the two principals neatly reflects back to the friendly rivalry between Kitamura and his fellow director Tsutsumi which originally initiated the film. If you are tired of bloated Hollywood mega-buck productions and want to get back to the basics of purposeful dialogue, imaginative stageing and thought-through editing - in short, lean, popcorn pumping cinema - then this is a film you need to see.
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