Monday, 3 September 2007

Azumi (2003) - Ryuhei Kitamura

Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, Azumi is a simple story told fairly well with plenty of fighting and blood-spilling thrown in to keep the audience entertained. The story is essentially one of assassins being sent out into the world to kill bad men, only to start questioning their actions when they come across nice people and witness innocents being slain. I could probably throw in a quote here about how along with great power comes responsibility, only in Azumi the assassins have no responsibilities, are are actively encouraged not to feel guilt. Azumi herself, is the only woman in the group, the fastest and most talented of all of them it is abundantly clear from the first reel that she is the one who will save the day in the end.

Considering the body-count (very high - 3 figures at least), explosions and other sorts of violence it's surprising that such a film could be as dull and boring as this. The dialogue is monotonous and - for the mostpart - the editing of the action scenes is choppy beyond distraction, throw in far far too much slow motion and an awful electric guitar soundtrack and the whole thing gets quite annoying very quickly indeed. There's not much required of the actors here, other than to talk solemnly and fight - which is a pity because one or two hint at some genuine talent.

With cliché compounding cliché, and no blood-letting we haven't already seen before in Kill Bill i wouldn't recommend this to anyone. There are much, much better Samurai flicks out there, and much better Japanese film-makers too.


La Casa Sperduta Nel Parco (1980) - Ruggero Deodato

It's a good job Ruggero Deodato made a name for himself, and established a reputation with Cannibal Holocaust because watching The House On The Edge Of The Park one could easily assume he's the Uwe Boll of the 1980s.

Starring David Hess from Wes Craven's Last House On The Left the parallels to that film do not end there, although in Deodato's film there are attempts at social commentary - albeit ones delivered with all the subtlety and nuance of a sledgehammer. The set-up is very close to Craven's film - people are tortured and abused at gun/knife-point before the captives turn on their captors to wreak bloody vengeance. The way this film never remotely approaches reality, is also a feature shared with the earlier work, only whereas Craven went for comedy Deodato goes for the plain ludicrous. A spoiler follows, but as i wouldn't recommend this film to anyone then i don't think it matters much (even so, if you might watch the film just skip to the next paragraph). The most ludicrous part of the film has to be the reason for it all - after all the killing and hurting we find out that it was all set up by one of the rich characters as a way of getting his own back on the guy who raped his sister; at this point you have to wonder why his friends agreed to be humiliated, raped and abused just so he could kill a guy none of them have ever met.

Like I've said above, the film is dire. Not even dire, but truly, abysmally atrocious. The lighting doesn't even match up from one shot to the next, never mind the play fighting that passes for violence or the dumbest scream in film history. Then there's the dialogue, the flow of the plot etc etc nothing makes sense, nothing is even barely believable. There's suspension of disbelief with films, then there's stuff that's so bad you just have to laugh at it, this is such a case. Thankfully however, being in the UK i saw the film after it had been cut by about 11 minutes - i for one am glad i didn't have to endure another 11 minutes of this crap.