AKA: Kamui, Kamui The Lone Ninja
Director: Yoichi Sai
Writers: Kankuro Kudo Yoichi Sai
Cast: Ken ichi Matsuyama, Koyuki Koyuki, Kaoru Kobayashi, Koichi Sato, Hideaki Ito
Running Time: 120 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
“Kamui Gaiden” is the story of a Kamui (Ken’ichi Matsuyama), an ex-evil ninja who turns his back on his evil ways to pursue a peaceful lifestyle. However, everywhere he goes, he is followed and attacked by his former ninja clan, who now consider him a traitor.
“Kamui Gaiden” (not to be confused with “The Dagger of Kamui,” a novel/anime that explores similar themes) is based on the popular manga “The Legend of Kamui,” but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re walking into a happy-go-lucky, bubblegum tale. Sure, it has its cutesy moments, but mark my word – this flick is bloody, brutal, and surprisingly, downbeat.
The martial arts choreography is swift, simple and easy on the eye. As expected in a ‘ninja’ film, there a bit of jumping and flying around, but it never gets completely out of hand. The cgi effects, which are spotty, somehow work. I enjoyed the brief descriptions of Kamui’s specialized attack moves, which are reminiscent to reading about what a video game character can do.
Not all the action consists of blades flying, dicing and slicing; there’s a brief moment where are Kamui takes on killer sharks, which seems a bit out of place (I’m not sure if this is a scene taken from the manga).
Whether it’s Korean, Chinese or Japanese, I’m not the biggest fan of these newer swordplay/fantasy/period/martial arts movies. These types of films bore me to death. Call me an old geezer, but I’ll take some 1960/1970’s Shaw Brothers shit before the majority of this new stuff any day.
“Kamui Gaiden” is an exception. Together with a brief Manga-style intro, and an opening action sequence (think George Miller’s “Road Warrior,” only without the cars), “Kamui” grabbed my attention instantly. There are some slow-moving, talky instances, but for the most part, the film is never boring.
See if you can spot Hong Kong star Ekin Cheng (“Young and Dangerous”), who has an extended cameo in the film (even in Japan we can’t get away from this guy).
Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7/10