Jeremy's Reviews Blog

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Azumi (DVD)

Ever since I saw "Versus", I have been a fan of Ryuhei Kitamura. Azumi is his latest movie to hit DVD in the US, although it's actually from 2003 and so not that new. But I just got it from Blockbuster Online.

Basically it's the story of a ninjas in 15th-17 century Japan. Just when it isn't clear, but after they had guns (muskets), but before there were westerners around. In order to keep peace in the land, this guy swears to a priest that he will form a team of assassins to kill any warlords who make trouble. He does this by taking a group of children, and raising them together and instructing them in fighting.

Finally he and his ninja-kids (actually probably 16-17 year olds) go out into the world and start killing off the rebel warlords. At first this works, but soon complications set in

It's a rather brutal movie, and quite bloody, although not particularly realistic blood. And like many of his films, it's really long (the US release is just over 2 hrs, apparently the Japanese version is 2 1/2).

On the one hand, it is a fairly thought provoking movie. Most of the people the ninja-kids fight against actually don't seem to be particularly villainous. In fact (and I wonder if this was the point), their master is probably the most villainous person in the movie, or among them. But on the other, I'm not sure having characters who are the protagonists that are unlikeable makes for a good movie. The ninja-kids weren't very interesting.

Like much of his films, the action scenes are generally more stylish than action-y. There's a whole lot of them, though.