Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writers: Isao Kiriyama, Yu Koyama
Producer: Mataichiro Yamamoto
Cast: Aya Ueto, Shun Oguri, Hiroki Narimiya, Kenji Kohashi, Takatoshi Kaneko, Yuma Ishigaki, Tak Sakaguchi, Yoshio Harada, Kenichi Endo, Kazuya Shimizu
Running Time: 124/148 min.
Strip the Power Rangers of the space-age outfits and crappy-looking rubber-suited monsters and place them in say, feudal Japan, and what you’re left with is the swordplay epic-lite Azumi. Because like their weekday afternoon brethren, the kids in Azumi say things like “that’s cool!” and “creeps me out”; they’re all teen idol cute; and their costumes are, well, costumes, not authetic looking period pieces. And like the Power Rangers television show, the sets are obviously sets with each town seemingly owning a single street. Toss in a few colorful and colorfully costumed villains and voila, you’ve got the Power Rangers, 15th century-style.
But despite the pop star sheen and the limited martial artisty of its cast, Azumi is a load of fun, especially in its latter half when character development has been tossed aside in favor of bloody mayhem and copious close-ups of hottie Aya Ueto as Azumi. Although Ueto’s martial arts skills are obviously limited (she’s about a tenth as athletic as Uma Thurman, who pulled off HER fight scenes with surprising believability in Kill Bill), she more than makes up for it by looking super hot in feudal Japan’s version of the traditional schoolgirl outfit, replete with a pair of swords perfect for slicing up scores of ninja and samurai. There’s blood galore, a severed body part or two, ocassional comic relief and a pair of super-interesting baddies in Bijumaru (the pasty white one with the red eye shadow) and “Monkey-face,” the Wolverine-like ninja.
Azumi is too long (and I watched the 124-minute Korean version, not the full-length 148-minute Japanese release). Its length could easily have been trimmed had some of the less important plot threads been axed along with some of the sillier character development. But despite its length, Azumi entertertained me from start to finish. After all, it’s tough not to enjoy a flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously, features two cool villains, has a host of ninja and showcases the um, acting talents of Ueto.
Alexander’s Rating: 8.5/10
I’m really not sure what to say about Azumi, other than that if you liked Versus AT ALL, you’ll LOVE Azumi. The style, the action and the body count all make this a fun, fantasy flick for the whole frickin’ family.
A group of orphans are raised by their master to be excellent swordsmen. They are trained to be assassins and to carry out their mission at all costs. That mission is to kill any warlords around the country who refuse to stop waging war. It almost plays out like a Guns & Talks, from Japan, with sword fighting, that takes place 400 years ago and centers on a girl named Azumi. It’s stylishly shot, it’s got interesting characters (very reminiscent of all the ninja from the anime Ninja Scroll) and it actually got a plot (unlike Versus, which was just fun, plot-less action).
If I had to come up with any complaints about the movie, at all, I would list two. One was when a lot of the characters would strike with their swords, it looked like the actors intentionally missed or they slowed way down before the strike. It simply made the fighting look more like movie fighting than like ACTUAL fighting. But, as this WAS a movie, I’ll let it slide.
The other complaint was when a character gets his head chopped off and, even as the head is falling to the ground, he’s continuously screaming. Now, here’s the thing about screaming· due to evolution, we’re able to control our breathing. So, when the diaphragm rises it forces air out of the lungs, and past the larynx. The larynx then vibrates, creating sound, which is then controlled through movement of the lips and tongue. Now, if a head is not attached to the body, then the larynx (which is in the neck) doesn’t get air passing over it, allowing it to vibrate and allowing the person to scream. Oh well. As they say, it’s just a movie.
Check out Azumi. Then check out the sequel when it comes out. It’s just a cool movie with cool action and enough blood to make everyone happy.
Equinox21’s Rating: 9/10