Take a group of people up against a horde of rampaging zombies and you have a movie probably written and directed by George A. Romero. Change that to a single woman fighting against zombies and most will probably think of Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil trilogy movies. How about a voluptuous babe dressed in a ten gallon cowboy hat, a fur scarf and only wearing a string bikini fighting against the living dead? Well, you get Oneechanbara: The Movie based on a semi-famous Japanese video game. If that sounds even remotely pleasing read on. If not, move along as there’s nothing of interest here.
Jae-young Kwak is not a household name in the West and indeed not even in the East although viewers are most definitely aware of some of his past work that includes the South Korean mega-blockbuster My Sassy Girl which tore through the Asian box office like a tornado and firmly established its two young stars Jun Ji-hyun and Cha Tae-hyun. His follow-up, Windstruck, also starring Jun Ji-hyun while including some of the same themes was not nearly as successful. This time around Jae-young Kwak turns to an all Japanese cast with his newest film Cyborg She that basically concludes his romantic comedy trilogy.
Kurosagi, the eleven episode drama released in 2006, might not have been the pinnacle of Japanese prime time television but it had enough charm and inherent spunk that made the show feel like goofy fun. It also helped that it had two compelling leads in Tomohisa Yamashita and Maki Horikita who were reunited after showing much onscreen chemistry in the critically lauded Nobuta Wo Produce made a year earlier in 2005. With Kurosagi a hit fans hoped for a second season but instead the producers decided that it was time to bring Tomohisa Yamashita to the silver screen in his first starring feature film thus we have Eiga: Kurosagi which takes place more or less right after the end of the series. However, like other television shows which attempt to make the jump to the cinema, it appears the filmmakers have made the same mistakes that have often times plagued these translations. In short, television and film might on the surface appear to be similar but they are in fact totally different mediums and a wise filmmaker would be aware of the massive differences between both.
I am going to say with one simple word my opinion about this movie: flummoxed. Yes, this is one of those rare times when no amount of cinema studies schooling or life lessons served me any good. Gegege No Kitaro, besides having an odd sounding pronunciation in English is absolutely impenetrable for those who go into this film without any prior knowledge of the source material. Thank goodness I watch copious amounts of anime or else some of the bizarre creatures or crackpot imagery would have surely overloaded my cerebral cortex leaving my body a spastic mess.
Beautifully shot and impeccably acted, director Yôji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai is an achingly touching movie telling the tale of a simple low ranking Samurai struggling to eke out a meager existence during the waning days of the end of the Samurai era. Anime fans will no doubt know this period by the many genre series such as fan favorite Rurouni Kenshin while live action cinephiles will recognize this in films such as Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai. However, unlike those shows Twilight Samurai features next to no action and takes the viewer on an altogether enlightening look into a subject matter not so often touched upon that being the daily routine of a common Samurai. All this takes place a few scant years before the tectonic shift in the socio-political structure that will eventually become the Meiji Restoration and the final abolishment of the Samurai way of life.