Samurai Marathon  サムライマラソン Dir: Bernard Rose (2019) [New York Asian Film Festival 2019]

Samurai Marathon 

サムライマラソン Samurai MarasonSamurai Marathon Film Poster

Duration: 104 mins.

Release Date: February 22nd, 2019

Director:  Bernard Rose

Writer: Hiroshi Saito, Kikumi Yamagishi Bernard Rose (Screenplay), Akihiro Dobashi (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Shota Sometani, Mirai Moriyama, Nana Komatsu, Munetaka Aoki, Hiroki Hasegawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Naoto Takenaka, Danny Huston, Junko Abe, Mugi Kadowaki, Mariko Tsutsui,

Website IMDB

Every May in Annaka city, Gunma Prefecture, a marathon is held that claims to be the oldest in Japan. Its origins can be traced back to when Commodore Perry arrived off the coast of the country in 1854 with his black ships and, through threat of aggression, ended 260 years of Japan’s self-imposed isolation. Leaders across the land reacted differently to his arrival. One cautious feudal lord, Katsuaki Itakura of the Annaka clan, tested the abilities of his samurai by holding a marathon. This story is brought to life by British director Bernard Rose – famous for Candyman (1992) – who worked from the novel “The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon” by Akihiro Dobashi. The resulting film, Samurai Marathon will sweep audiences away in its neatly executed adventure that, once it gets running, provides plenty of action and amusement.

The film’s set-up is a sprint to get everyone to the starting line. Opening with the arrival of Commodore Perry (Danny Huston) and his treaty demands it dashes into Katsuaki Itakura’s (Hiroki Hasegawa) organising a marathon 36 miles long to toughen up his warriors in mind and body for potential attacks from foreigners. The promise of a wish being granted to the winner is the motivation for the ensemble of runners which consists of fighting men of all stripes from lower-class spear-men like Hironoshi Uesugi (Shota Sometani), who dreams of being raised to the status of a higher-class samurai, an aged samurai recently put out to pasture named Mataemon Kurita (Naoto Takenaka), to the chief retainer’s son, Heikuro Tsujimura (Mirai Moriyama) who wants to marry Itakura’s daughter Princess Yuki (Nana Komatsu). All are vying to win and all are introduced quickly as are the people connected to them such as wives and children. By the time we get to the starting line at the 40-minute mark we get a vertical view of samurai society and become connected to characters who are all distinctly sketched.

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Snow Woman 雪女 (2017) Dir: Kiki Sugino

My yearly Halloween post is back! Last year, when I was in Tokyo, I reviewed Hideo Nakata’s mid-90s chiller, Don’t Look Up! (soon to be released in the US with a sparkly update thanks to Tidepoint Pictures). That very same week, I went to see Snow Woman at the Tokyo International Film Festival thanks to a friend. Here’s my review!

 

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Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno るろうに剣心京都大火編 (2014)

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno    RUROUNI KENSHIN 2_Poster

Japanese Title: るろうに剣心京都大火編

Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Taika Hen

Release Date: August 01st, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 139 mins.

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Watsuki Nobuhiro (Original Manga), Kiyomi Fujii, Keishi Ohtomo (Screenplay)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Yosuke Eguchi, Kaito Oyagi, Yosuke Eguchi, Yusuke Iseya, Tao Tsuchiya, Maryjun Takahashi,

History is never as clean or as clear cut as the books make it out to be and for the survivors’ of the Boshin War and the pivotal Battle of Toba-Fushimi the scars run deep and the old hatreds have simmered. It is to be expected that the consequences of this battle are messier and farther reaching than many would like considering the conflict between the Tokugawa Shogunate and the eventually victorious Imperial forces decided the fate of Japan and set in motion the end of samurai era and ushered in the modernisation and westernisation of Japan. Many who fought on both sides found themselves cast adrift in a new world that does not require their deadly skills but these people who fought to change the future of their nation will find history can never be escaped.

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Rurouni Kenshin るろうに剣心 (2012)

Rurouni Kenshin                                              るろうに剣心 Poster

Romaji: Rurouni Kenshin

Japanese Title: るろうに剣心

Release Date: August, 25th 2012 (Japan)

UK Release Date: August 2013 (UK)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Keishi Ohtomo

Writer: Watsuki Nobuhrio (Original Manga), Kiyomi Fujii, Keishi Ohtomo (Screenplay)るろうに剣心 Poter

Starring: Takeru Sato, Emi Takei, Yu Aoi, Teruyuki Kagawa, Taketo Tanaka, Munetaka Aoki, Yosuke Eguchi, Koji Kikkawa,

The live-action adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s classic chanbara manga Rurouni Kenshin is the latest release from Warner Bros. Japan. The company is building a large portfolio of live-action adaptations of anime and manga for the big screen. Previous projects from the Warner Bros. include releases like Wild 7, Ninja Kids!!!, the Death Note films and the Berserk anime. These are titles which are popular in and outside of Japan, safe properties which come with an in-built fan-base. A safe bet if you will and it seems to have payed off because Rurouni Kenshin was one of the highest grossing film in Japan in 2012 and not without reason because it is one of the best adaptations of an anime or manga that I have seen in a while. This post is full of Gifs so apologies for slow loading times.

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