16 May 2004 | Akira-36
Cool. Uplifting. Meaningful.
If only every samurai flick from Japan is this cool, then I'd be a very happy man. But then again here lies the greatness of Samurai Fiction. It does not conform to the common rules of period film making. In fact, director Hiroyuki Nakano creates a genuinely fresh look at that age-old jidaigeki genre, by doing everything in the opposite direction. His sense of humour is slick, his presentation stylish and by the end of the movie you can not avoid being moved by the heart of the story. It's actually cathartic for me, a fan of samurai films and Japanese drama/comedy.
Don't be misled by the trailer though, Nakano takes on the film is far from creating a parody of the likes of Kurosawa. SF is essentially a fresh comedy which happens to be set in the Edo period, because it works so well in conveying his message to the audience.
The casting is pitch-perfect, characterization is sublime, editing is effective and smartly executed, while the direction is top-notch and funky. You would also love the art direction, cinematography and best of all the soundtrack of the film. The music pieces themselves are melody narrator of the story, as they carry you throughout the journey and mark transitions of the scenes so effectively.
I must say Samurai Fiction will be half as good without the music, so a special praise should go the the talented Tomoyasu Hotei, who himself turned in such a cool performance as the ronin Kazamatsuri. He's probably the most suave renegade on film after the great Toshiro Mifune.
The film directly opens with a promise of a sequel by directly entitling the movie Episode One: Samurai Fiction. Then we jump backward all the way to the year 1696, the Edo Period. The narrator then states that the character you see on the screen was the narrator himself, 300 years ago. The film then closes with the same narrator saying that it would take him a long time to learn the lesson of love. Enter the sequel: Episode 2002: Stereo Future. Can't wait to watch it!!!