Recent posts tagged samurai


Bushido (Bushido: The Cruel Code of the Samurai) (Bushidō zankoku monogatari)

The cruel cost of the samurai code, across the generations.

Gate of Hell

One of the best films of 2013 appears to have been made in 1954, and has now been lovingly restored for the ages.

Hara-Kiri (2012)

Takashi Miike's remake of this austere '60s samurai classic is well-made and watchable, but why remake perfection?


Enma the Immortal (Fumi Nakamura)

What seems at first glance like a "Blade of the Immortal" clone is anything but.



"Casshern" director returns to take the same rip-roaring approach to samurai/ninja fantasy adventure territory.


Ninja Justice (Shotaro Ikenami)

A while back I wrote about Baian the Assassin, one of any number of samurai-era TV shows that Japan created for itself rather than an international audience. Times have changed, and what Japan once considered insular and wholly theirs has...

Lost Silver Dept.

Japan Society, New York - Destiny's SonIn Kenji Misumi’s breakthrough film, Ichikawa seeks revenge and redemption after his family is murdered by a rival clan. An astonishing, dreamlike samurai film written by Kaneto Shindo, Destiny’s Son is a demonic masterpiece:...

Ōoku (The Inner Chambers)

Note:This movie is not related to the manga Ōoku. When I talk to other fans of movies from Asia, they praise the ambition and fearlessness of the best such films—how they aim higher and shoot farther than their pusillanimous Hollywood...


Kataribe (Masayuki Ishikawa)

Before Masayuki Ishikawa had his big hit with Moyasimon (a tale of talking bacteria, no less), he had a couple of other one-shot titles that may or may not get an English release. I’ve been pushing for “may”, as after...

Sword of the Stranger

How long has it been since we’ve seen a really good animated samurai epic? Not a series, but a feature film? Apart from Ninja Scroll (which wasn’t to my taste), the animated Musashi (not yet seen by me) the middling...

Makai Tenshō (2003) (Samurai Resurrection)

All countries have their perennial movie subjects. Western viewers get treated to new cinematic versions of Dickens and Shakespeare every few years, and Japan has had no less than three movie adaptations of the immensely popular pulp-fantasy novel Makai Tensho...


Kaidan’s an experiment in contrasting forms, shilling for conflicting. Take one of the samurai-horror flicks of the Fifties and Sixties, bring it up to date with modulated acting styles, psychological realism and understated visual style, and then force the conceits...

Batten Vol. #2 (×天~ばってん) (Tōya Ataka)

Well, that was short-lived. Such was my reaction at reading the second, and apparently final, volume of Batten. There’s little more depressing than reading something you have a furtive sidelong liking for despite all its flaws, and then seeing it...

Shigurui: Death Frenzy

The mark of a skilled executioner in feudal Japan was to be able to slice off the head of a victim and yet still leave it attached to the corpse by a single shred of flesh. Here is a story...


Batten Vol. #1 (×天~ばってん) (Tōya Ataka)

I’m tempted to like Batten just for its period setting, but most especially for its ultra-goofy hero—easily the most flamboyant creature of his kind since “Peter” minced across the screen in Funeral Procession of Roses. His name’s Tsubaki Seijurō and...

The Blade of the Courtesans (Keiichiro Ryu)

The very things that make The Blade of the Courtesans deeply immersive and engrossing are also what make it frustrating. Here we have a novel of historical Japan written by a native Japanese, one who has obviously taken the time...

Chiba Chiba Dept.

Last night I watched one of the first Blu-ray offerings that could be filed under the “Japan” category—a double feature of Shogun’s Ninja and Killing Machine. Both star Sonny Chiba, both are from Toei, but the two movies could scarcely...

Blade of the Immortal Vol. #3: Dreamsong

“Beautiful” and “deadly” are two words that seem fated to go hand-in-hand in most manga. They certainly apply to Makie the geisha, a woman of both uncommon loveliness and unearthly skill with her choice of weapons. A woman that gorgeous...

Basilisk: Box Set

Once again, I’m fighting the urge to collapse into complete blathering fandom. Basilisk is as grand and glorious an anime as anyone could ask for, violent and beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. I love most any show that taps...

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade [Blu-ray]

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade is a live-action adaptation of Fûtaro Yamada’s ninja-adventure novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, which in turn inspired the manga and anime Basilisk—so with a pedigree like that it ought to be a knockout. It’s stuffed with...



Finally, a live-action fantasy from Japan that doesn’t look better on the back of the DVD box than it does on the screen! That was the problem with Shinobi and Azumi, which looked great in theory but were terribly leaden...

Sansho the Bailiff

Here is another of Japan’s loveliest and most sorrowful of films, restored to life and freed from the patina of decades of damage that hid its beauty. Sansho the Bailiff was one of the first Japanese movies I rented as...


Dora-heita wastes two things, both hard to come by: a potentially great story and a truly great performance. The truly great performance is by Kōji Yakusho, one of Japan’s most dependable male actors, nominally called upon by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa...

Moon over Tao

Moon over Tao is one of those movies where the idea should have yielded something really awesome, but what they ended up with was only okay. It’s one of a very small number of “hybrid fantasy” movies from Japan, where...


Shinobi: Heart Under Blade

If Trinity Blood was an example of an anime where they took a great idea and wasted it, Shinobi is the live-action version of the same sort of mistake. It is a period ninja-fantasy adventure with a game cast, based...

See other samurai posts for 2006

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