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Top Samurai/Jidai Geki Films of 2008

 
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Obenjo Kusanosuke
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:30 pm    Post subject: Top Samurai/Jidai Geki Films of 2008 Reply with quote
As 2008 comes to a close, it may be a good idea to bring about a new incarnation of the thread we had going at the end of last year where people posted what were the best top three or five samurai/jidai geki movies or TV shows that you had seen over the past year.

So, what were the best samurai/jidai geki films and shows you saw in 2008? These don’t necessarily need to be films or shows that you saw for the first time this year or brand new releases. Just list what you saw during 2008 and if it is a film or show you have seen before, only list it if it’s been at least 2 years since you’ve last viewed it.

For me, my top five best of ’08 are:
1. Atsuhime- yes, NHK’s Taiga made my list. I know a lot of people may have heard not so rave reviews about this one as there isn’t a lot of swordplay and violence, but this is one heck of a compelling Bakumatsu drama. I’m surprised at how much I even like it!
2. Heroes and Villains: The Shogun- this particular installment of the BBC series focusing on Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Battle of Sekigahara was tastefully done and very entertaining. Of course a few liberties were taken to maximize its appeal within its 60 minute format, but I was easily able to overlook them as it isn’t so often you see something on Tokugawa Ieyasu in the western mainstream media.
3. Crest of Betrayal (Chushingura Gaiden Yotsuya Kaidan)- what a perfect blend of the 47 Ronin and Yotsuya Kaiden stories! It even has the right amounts of blood, sex, cheese and sleaze to make this a midnight cinema hall of famer! I first saw half of this movie many years ago. This year was the first time I’ve been able to watch it all in one sitting.
4. Shinobi no Mono- Yeah, it’s a ninja flick, but Raizo is soooo kewl!
5. Ronin-Gai- A fine movie that has been discussed many times, but 2008 was the first time I’ve seen it.

Also, for me, the ‘biggest’ surprise of ’08 had to be Samurai Sexecutioner II: The Amorous Assassin. Brick McBurly was truly bigger than life in this pinky samurai chambara flick.

**EDIT** Django would have been on my list, if I had not made room for the Beeb's Ieyasu doc. Django is a really fun flick that shouldn't be missed if you like messy and silly chambara actions with heavy dose of Italian spaghetti western seasoning.
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Last edited by Obenjo Kusanosuke on Thu Dec 11, 2008 10:38 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
My favorite Japanese movie of 2008 was Machine Girl, but since it's not quite jidai-geki (even though it has the Hattori clan and yakuza ninja) it doesn't count.

I'd go with these three:

1) Sukiyaki Western/D'Jango (Japanese version)-a hilarious reimagination of the Genpei wars with some decent action scenes and a beautiful final showdown.

2) Yabu No Naka No Kuroneko (The Black Cat)-a moody and touching Heian period black and white horror film. The historical touches only enhanced the creepy story.

3) And also Chushingura Gaiden Yotsuya Kaidan. An amazing movie that has everything but the kitchen sink, only because it wasn't around in the Edo period. Great acting, gorgeous sets and photography, and the best portrayal on film of the 47 Ronin.

As far as McBurly films, I've had an advance peek on his holiday special set to air on New Year's. If you thought last year's special, Kuraku'd Tengu, was good, wait until you get a load of the new one!
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 7:14 am    Post subject: Top 5 of 2008 Reply with quote
Since I only really revisited this genre in 2008, after a brief flirtation with it about 10 years earlier, I’ll just try to pick my top five out of the MANY I’ve watched this year.

1. Seppuku (1962): one of the first I saw, and still my favorite. Established both Kobayashi and Nakadai obsessions, as well as honing my long-running interest in picking out humanism in everything I see, read and hear.

2. Zatoichi #3 (Zatoichi Enters Again-1963): I had watched several Ichi films before this one, but he really became fully fleshed-out here, confronting his former master, who had not maintained Ichi’s high standard; I saw not just the badass blind man but a deeply human character who gave consideration beyond his own interests or even those of just his friends. After watching this one, I vowed I must watch them all!

3. Sword of Doom (1966): yes, my introduction to the Shinsengumi like many other people except perhaps the anime crowd. Also established interest in source material and other adaptations of it (I’ve seen three now). Appealed to my sense of indirect storytelling, philosophy of swordsmanship, idea of karma, etc. etc. (gotta be some reason I keep looking for the novel Daibosatsu Toge…). Also, I picked this adaptation over the others simply because I liked Nakadai’s interpretation of the character as far as it went and what Okamoto et. al did to tweak the facts of the story to make things even more suggestive of an active working karma (also love that high contrast B&W style he uses—chiaroscuro on steroids!)

4. NHK’s Shinsengumi! Taiga drama (2004): I’m including this here because it is my first Taiga drama and not only did it flesh out the Shinsengumi (luckily I waited though til I read more about them and the period, so I knew what was fanciful and what was most likely real). If movies are bonbons, the Taiga drama is like a massive 49-course feast with more sake than I can down in several sittings. There is just no immersion experience in film to compare with this, and they do them every year!!!! (I SO want to watch Atsuhime now, so I need to make the time to figure out how to use torrents and d-addicts, etc. etc..). I was lucky in that I managed to finish watching “Shinsengumi!” right before the site took the eps down.

5. Tenchu! (Hitokiri, 1969): Brought to life that keenly chaotic Bakumatsu time in an artful fashion. My first Gosha film, first film I saw that represented Sakamoto Ryoma (Ishihara Yujiro, who looks nothing like Ryoma), first non-Zatoichi Katsu Shintaro role (interesting that his Okada Izo and his Stranger in Inn of Evil were both just utterly trashed all the time), evilest Nakadai Tatsuya role (that’s saying something), really gave me clues as to how confusing, violent and changeable the 1860’s in Kyoto must have been. Helped fuel my Bakumatsu obsession quite a lot.

It was hard keeping it to five; I must have watched 50 or more! And I guess I'm lucky I haven't delved into the repertoire of the great McBurly yet, or I would have had an even harder time picking my faves! Just Kidding
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I loved Sukiyaki Western D'Jango. It was new and fresh. Also I saw a lot of Clint Eastwood in the film. My old man liked it. I was entertained to the max.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject: best Reply with quote
(1)THE GREAT KING SEJONG (2008-KBS 85 Episodes )
yes its Korean but it does feature Samurai in the Tsushima segment and again with Dokdo .
This is what i want to see in a Taiga Drama because this is a big production that looks like a film ,it has a haunting score ,great battles ,great costumes ,great acting this is just superb in every aspect .
(2)ATSUHIME (NHK Taiga Drama 2008 ,50 Episodes )
I noticed this had 5 directors which explains why it lagged in places and sped up in others ,minor quibble it is great and a great change of pace .
One thing though NHK you have up the ante with the production values ,
(3)SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO
(4)WARRIORS IEYASU TOKUGAWA
Found this on the Military Channel its the same BBC production Obenjo mentions in fact i think its repeated this Sat .
(5)THE IMMORTAL YI SOON SHIN (2004 -KBS 104 Episodes )
yeah its Imjin War ,very biased but still has awesome battle scenes ,i waited a few years to see this and it choked on accuracy but still was great entertainment .
(6)FURIN KAZAN (NHK Taiga 2007 )
Im cheating i used this last year ....but as it ended here in Feb im picking it again ,
In fact this should be #2

This has not been a great year for me for Samurai Stuff ,i watched season 4 of KAGE NO GUNDAN and despite Sanada as Katsu Rintaro this was family fodder ,no bloodshed NO bath houses(BOO HOO!!!) .
Not Samurai but i have to give a shout to John Woo's RED CLIFF (it has two JP actors in it )his best film since BULLET IN THE HEAD (Thats not saying much ).
and the new KBS Drama KINGDOM OF THE WIND'S about Dae-Musin the Third king Of Gogoreyeo ,anybody thought MUSA was good!!well that was small potatoes check this out when it comes to DVD ,battle scenes are awesome .
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Atsuhime
Seven Duels
Sensitive Samurai
Chushingura - recent mini series.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
1.Jirocho Sangokushi(2008)
http://www.jirocho-movie.jp/

2.Yamazakura(2008)
http://www.yamazakura-movie.com/

3.Kakushitoride no San'akunin(2008)
http://www.kakushi-toride.jp/index.html

4.Ichi(2008)
http://wwws.warnerbros.co.jp/ichi/

5.Atsuhime(2008)

6.Kurama Tengu(2008)

7.Shabake2(2008)
http://wwwz.fujitv.co.jp/shabake/index2.html

I missed Chushingura otonashi no ken, did anybody watch it?
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:30 pm    Post subject: ICHI Reply with quote
I have not seen Ichi only a trailer but i have been told it is awful .
The chief complaint seems to be Punk Rock Samurai you know Mohawk's ,Spikey Bleached Hair .
I was told that the reviews were harsh ,again im only going by second hand info while Shikisoku has actually seen it and can enlighten us more than my rambling .
I was looking forward to this film thats why i want to hear "its ok ".

New Chushingura is that the one with Tamura ,?it seems to differ from the usual 47 fare ,but again i have not seen it so please someone tell us .
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PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2009 12:38 pm    Post subject: 2008 picks Reply with quote
I’ll go with Kai no Kami, Obenjo Kusanosuke dono on the top two, giving a shout to Tony. From then on I have to agree with Wicked Lemon on Korea as coming up with some great Warrior Drama this year an last. Sorry to all who spent years on their Japanese Subtitling degrees. I have to say that our whole Samurai Film genre seems to be in danger of going the way of the American western. I maybe a bit morbid on this, but I feel there isn’t as much in the pipeline each year. Brothers in arm(chairs) what can be done? I liked Tango no Kami, Shikisoku donos picks because he managed to find all 2008 productions. Very tuff to do. What did you think of Ogata Naoto as Kondo Isami For me, my top five best of ’08 are: 1. Atsuhime (2008) 2. Heroes and Villains: Shogun (2008) 3. THE GREAT KING SEJONG (2008) 4. Kurama Tengu (2008) 5. Yamazakura (2008) The one reason I could not vote for Shinobi no Mono was this whole punk rock Samurai invasion, I can put up with the bad guys looking like Klingon's. If this invasion from American cinema keeps moving to rising sun, I may have to look at Taliban initiation. Nope, I can't do that either.
Happy dorama 2009
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PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2009 12:19 am    Post subject: Re: 2008 picks Reply with quote
Tai wrote:
The one reason I could not vote for Shinobi no Mono was this whole punk rock Samurai invasion, I can put up with the bad guys looking like Klingon's.



Huh? The Raizo films are very traditional in terms of character models and costuming. Are you thinking of Shinobi: Heart Under Blade?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
What about Shigurui ? I believe they have recently relased it in US ( http://funimation.com/shigurui/ ). Sure it IS twisted but call me tasteless but I find some of the shots rather beautiful and tone of entire series, dealing with human obsessions much more mature then most of other productions.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2009 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I apologize, but I may have mis spoke here. Ichikawa Raizô will always be one of the greats Stars.Shinobi no Mono(1962) were classic. Like Grasshopper! My mis- speaking was of Shinobi-Heart Under Blade.

Thank you for pointing this out.
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