Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chambara movies and 13 Assasins

I grew up watching what we called "chambara"  or samurai films - Japanese costume dramas with sword-fighting, usually in the Tokugawa era. Of course, the best were directed by Akira Kurosawa, and featured the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. They include Seven Samurai, which was remade as the Magnificent Seven, and Yojimbo - remade into Fistful of Dollars.

Sorry, the remakes are sadly NOT up to the originals. Please seek those out and see them, if you can.

I'm not a sentimental person, but I do miss the combination of masterful storytelling and swordplay of these Japanese films. So I had to see 13 Assassins. What did I think?

The best thing was my favorite Japanese actor - Koji Yakusho, who can play a salaryman (Shall We Dance - which was also remade, and badly!), stressed-out father (Babel) as well as a detective or ex-con. The swordplay was NOT graceful, and there was a lot of gore and technical gimmickry - even in the plot! And CGI in a chambara film???

There are too many wonderful samurai movies to name, and they are probably unavailable. We grew up watching Zatoichi - the blind masseur/swordsman and the wily Woman Gambler, just to name a few! Shintaro Katsu's brother's Lone Wolf films. Miyamoto Musashi and Chushingura, more.

Tell me what your favorite chambara films are!

No comments:

Post a Comment