Archive for November 20th, 2012

aka The Emperor’s Sword

Orichalcum is a mystical metal material that gives great powers to the life form that possesses it. Many aeons ago, the Orichalcum split into three and landed on Earth. The metal then took the form of three relics: Skanda’s Vajra, the Jew’s Cross, and the Sword of Alexander. Anyone able to re-unite these three Orichalcum relics would then obtain the powers of a God. Now two rival alien factions are in a heated race to reunite the Orichalcum. They land in Edo-era Tokyo where the relics are thought to exist. A tall devil-may-care warrior by the name of Genkuro now possesses the legendary Sword of Alexander. He’s unaware of the sword’s importance as it was a gift from his dying grandfather. Genkuro then encounters Princess Mai and her bodyguard Sasuke who are escaping from the Tokunaga army. It just so happens that Princess Mai has been possessed by one of the rival aliens named Ran. Genkuro, Princess Mai, and Sasuke join forces to find the other two Orichalcum relics before the evil alien Dakusha does so. The fate of the universe is at stake.

This is a fast paced sci-fiction fantasy comedy set in the past involving aliens, zombies, ninjas and a man with a huge sword. You don’t usually see aliens and zombies turning up in samurai period movies at all. Surprisingly the mix of genres that director Yukihiko Tsutsumi brings to this movie works well for most of the time which is all done very tongue in cheek. It’s hard not to like this movie when you’ve got ample doses of camp comedy (one unfortunate joke right at the end shows a mountain in the shape of a penis!!) and good action sequences with quite a hefty dollop of gore thrown in. The storyline is simple and straight forward. It just follows the adventures of 3 people on a quest to find 3 mystical items whilst dealing with alien liquid beings who jump from host to host who are also after the same items. There are no great twists being offered in the movie. I thought at first this movie had the mark of Takashi Miike over it given the liberal amount of blood involved but he doesn’t have a hand at all in this production. It’s hard at times to know just for who this movie was targeted for – certainly not for kids with all the red stuff, decapitations and bodies cut in half so probably it was for teenage and adult tokusatsu fans. The storyline is suitably OTT (when you’ve got a dead bear coming to life and attacking a person you know it’s over the top!) and the hero of the movie is a first I believe in Japanese cinema in that he’s a son of an African man and a Japanese woman. The movie starts to fall into children’s super sentai territory when the main villain wth his green face appears to challenge Genkuro. Think of a far uglier version of Jim Carrey’s The Mask character! You’ve also got 2 demon like characters appearing too – one tends to vomit a load of bugs to attack. I’ve mentioned many times before that I cannot stand CG blood and there’s far too much of it again in this movie. The story tends to flag a bit during the 2nd half and becomes rather predictable. The movie builds up to the inevitable fight to the death between Genkuro and Dakusha.

I like Abe Hiroshi as an actor, he’s been one of my favourite Japanese actors for many years and he is quite effective in this movie as the hero Genkuro. Hiroshi isn’t usually associated with action hero roles but he does a credible job in playing a tall strong character who can wield a huge blade of a sword. He plays the character with a fine line of taking the plot seriously and just for laughs. He’s very good at doing comedy especially with deadpan characters such as the one he portrayed in the Trick TV series and movies. Princess Mai is played by Kyoko Hasegawa who’s possessed by an alien force which enters her through a cut on her hand. Hasegawa does her best to play 2 characters – the sweet Princess on the run and the tough alien inside her. It’s distracting at times to see the digital distortion on Mai’s face as she alternates between the 2 characters. The supporting characters perform admirably in their roles – the best being the beautiful Meisa Kuroki as a male samurai warrior although after taking one look at her and you’d know straight away that she’s far too glamorous to be a male. She doesn’t have much of an impact in the storyline as she tends to be in the background watching proceedings for most of the time.

Overall, this movie is a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. It’s got all the ingredients that will make it a cult movie in the future. If you like action and crazy comedy be sure to check it out.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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