AZUMI (2003-JAPAN)
review by Seraph


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This looks cruel!!!
Azumi. A movie so full off exciting action, I almost wet myself. Twice! And with that, I'll begin the real review.

Azumi is the new-ish movie from already acclaimed director Ryuhei Kitamura. Never heard of him you say? Well, trust me, this time next year you'll be sick of hearing his name. See, he's headed for Hollywood. And boy is he going to make a splash! Kitamura's style is very visual. He likes to duck, dive and weave his camera through expertly choreographed action scenes. His previous movie 'Versus' was a blur of hyper-kinetic action scenes and low budget horror (Think, Evil Dead'.) And while I enjoyed that movie a lot, I felt more should have been done to enhance the story and characters. With Azumi, Kitamura has managed to evolve. If only slightly.

The movie is about an assassin, Azumi 'Aya Ueto', and the nine friends she has trained with from a young age to complete a very special mission. The mission is to kill three leaders of various clans, who have sworn to cause trouble throughout the land. But it doesn't stop there. Azumi must also fight against her own heart, which tells her something is wrong in what she and her assassin friends are doing. Add to this threat a skilled swordsman Bijomaru 'Joe Odagari', who has been released from prison to hunt down and kill her and her comrades and things start to look bleak for our young heroine. All is not lost however, as Azumi is just about the fastest sword in the east. Yes. It's that sort of movie!

Firstly I'd like to say that Aya Ueto 'In her first movie role' does a fairly decent job. Both in acting and handling the action. 90% of which she did herself. Each of her comrades has their own style and skill and they all pull it off rather nicely. Also, the villain, 'Bijomaru' is absolutely hiss worthy. Which is a very good thing. Man did I want him to die. Like, 50 times. The acting isn't award worthy, but for a film of this type it is completely acceptable and even above average. With the help of a few emotional moments you really come to care about these guys. Which is all the more satisfying when the carnage kicks in. And boy, it does kick in, big time.

Here's where Kitamura's amazing visual style takes over. He films the action with so much zing, so much energy and enthusiasm, you can really sense something special in his work. Two scenes which stand out are: Azumi fighting off 10 ninjas who are moving in slow motion, while she moves at normal speed. This really gives the audience a feel for how fast she really is. The other stand out moment is in the final battle where Azumi battles the lead villain high above the streets of gomo. They reach a small bridge which is where Kitamura decides to one-up the matrix by having the camera do a multiple, verticle, 360 spin, over and under and over and under the bridge. It looks amazing, and trust me it'll make you a little air sick. Oh yeah, did I mention that Azumi single handedly fights 200 warriors in one fight? Well she does. And I don't mean lots of guys. I mean literally she fights off 200 guys. WOW. This scene has to be one of the craziest things I have ever seen on film. All perfectly choreographed by Kitamuras creative team and expertly filmed by his never ending array of camera wielding skills. If your jaw doesn't hit the floor. Then you are dead. Or at least very, very hard to please!

So, yeah. You could say I like this movie. Hell. You could even say I love it. But as I said before. Kitamuras storytelling really could use some work. Real work. But for the moment, I for one am happy to sit back and just enjoy his giddying, inventive camera work. Fantastic action and bravura style. This movie may not be for everyone. It's hardly breaking any new ground in the acting or story stakes. But if you love action I think you'll love it too. It may not be art. But man is it one hell of a fun ride!

I rate it 9/10

Neo Comments: Alright so what more can I say in a movie that Seraph loved and I did not watch it at all, geez I am out of date, so what you should do is listen to Seraph's advice and watch it or trash it, either I dunno cos I haven't even watch it. In other words, don't listen to my bs. On a final note, Seraph, this AZUMI word is very dangerous, just search it for IMAGES and guess what came up, well you should try it. Btw, I wasn't looking for that kind of pictures, but from the film, but somehow, you will know when you SEARCH GOOGLE IMAGES - AZUMI!!!

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Product Title : Azumi
Artist Name(s) : |Takenaka Naoto | Ueto Aya | Odagiri Joe
Language : Japanese| Mandarin
Duration : 320 minutes
Reviewed by Seraph (Paul) - September 2004