Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2 Asian Films

I happened to watch two films this past evening; one was called ‘Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf’ and the Other ‘The Japanese Wife’.

For those in the know, yes it is an odd assortment to have watched both in the same evening, yet it is as it is.
Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf, I knew from the start was probably going to be like watching one of those B-Level films many of us used to watch on Saturday mornings in the 80’s and 90’s.
After reading its plot and seeing the trailer, which did not help its cause much… although I still ventured to see it.

Although this is a Japanese produced film, the dialogue is largely and mostly spoken in English, (which should make those subtitle-haters out there happy), although there is some minimal Japanese dialogue, which is subtitled for the English speaking viewer.

There seems to be an attempt at comedic humor at certain intervals of the film, though I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be Dark humor or Genuine. However the attempt at humor was just as well received as the staggering plot line which was consistently interrupted by and unknown Characters voice to explain something that just happened in scene, some of these seemed almost condescending, though not by design I’m sure.

The many flashbacks that anchor the last ¾ of the film aren’t as bad though just like the off-par explanations, seemed a bit too out of place and invariably disturbed the story-line. That said the storyline could have been filmed in a bit of a different order to allow for such things, but that was not the case.

This is a film about a Japanese man whose Wife and Daughter while camping we’re lead to believe, are murdered before him and he is forced to gouge his eyes out. The ‘Blind’ man takes the time while the culprit is in jail to hone his skills as a samurai, to exact vengeance at some future point in time.

It was almost as gory as ‘Kill Bill’, with a bit more skin than expected even from this type of film. The dialogue was better than most of this kind, though a bit dry and a bit left to be desired. The ending wasn’t as bad as I expected but could have been better.

You are never quite sure if you are in Japan, Australia, or some American Territory, or else-where, because the scenery and buildings are a mix or hodge-podge of a cultural identity clash. And you’re not sure if this is some kind of Post-apocalyptic environment or they are just in some remote outskirts somewhere.

Though, one saving feature of this film may be its selection of very pretty and good looking actresses, and one or two of the actors actually seem to know how to use a Katana properly, but don’t expect much if you appreciate the sword forms in any of the martial arts, and these may be a stretch at that.

The film has a mixture of American ‘Old-West’ style with Japanese Samurai Bushido, mixed with revenge, some campy lines and B-grade effects at best.

Although I got into watching strange and random Asian flicks via some friends I used to hang out with many years back who found them amusing because of their crudeness and irrelevance to any realism or steady plot. I came to appreciate them for amusement as well and occasionally come across some strange ones for sure.

Although this is not the strangest, it is definitely different and I will only suggest you see this if you are willing to be amused and not easily offended by the mixing of ideologies, philosophies and the martial way, as well as by the indifferent approach to carnal gore, zombies, and sudden C-sections.

Yet after that film was said and done, I decided I wanted a change of pace and turned on ‘The Japanese Wife’, this was produced via Bollywood of India, though in partnership with the Japanese film industry.
This was spectacularly filmed, with great actors and actresses, the dialogue was excellent and the story plot sound and round characters.

I become lost in the story-line, without concern for the Bangla-Japanese-English dialogue; the English Subtitles helped out, but things were for the most part are really self-explanatory.

This film is about a Hindi man and a Japanese woman who become pen-pals and over the course of many years converse through letters and the occasional phone conversation. Eventually get married, and go through all the ups and downs of a friendship, a relationship, the distance of separation, temptation, the highs and lows of Love, battling limited funds and ailing family members, as well as cultural prejudices.

It is a very heartwarming story that I think crosses cultural lines and paints a very sincere picture of what Love can do for two people, even when they are separated by great distance.

The Japanese Wife had elements that were as deep as ‘The Notebook’, but as intense devotion like in the ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, and as much emotion as in ‘Across the Universe’.

I was thoroughly moved by this film and would definitely suggest this for anyone looking for a romantic film that moves at a decent pace and uses subtle airs in the building of the climax of the story.

I will warn you that the film contains sad parts and that the ending is well designed so that you do not necessarily know the result of the stories climax until it is presented to you.

It is sad a film like this never made shore in American Theaters, it is Hollywood quality and possibly better, and fits in with the softer Romantic storylines that are usually enjoyed here on American Soil.

For this Hindi-Nihon Film if I were to rate it on a scale of 1-10, I’d actually give it a 10, and that is saying something since I am not one in general, for Romantic films.

So if you are looking for something new to view, and you like to be amused by B-Grade Japanese style Western Films; Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf should be somewhere on your list, though I will forgive you if it is not at the top.

But if you are looking to woo your girl or have a quiet evening with your husband, or just like Romantic flicks, The Japanese Wife is a definite plus!

 R. William Holzkopf Jr.
Copyright © 2011 R. William Holzkopf Jr.

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