Tuesday, August 27, 2013

G.I. Samurai (1979)

Director: Kosei Saito

Starring: Sonny Chiba, Jun Teo, Moeko Ezawa, Ryo Hayami, Noriko Honma, Koji Lizuka, Masashi Ishibashi, Toshitaka Ito, Haruki Kadokawa, Takuzo Koadono, Hisroshi Kamayatsu, Goro Kataoka

More info: IMDb

Plot: A squadron of Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers find themselves transported through time to their country's warring states era, when rival samurai clans were battling to become the supreme Shogun. The squad leader, Lt. Iba, sees this as the perfect opportunity to realize his dream of becoming the ruler of Japan. To achieve this, he teams his troops up with those of Kagatori, a samurai daimyo who also aspires to become Shogun. Are either of these power-hungry warriors to be trusted?

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? YES!!!

Think about this for a minute.  A bunch of  Japanese National Guard types on weekend maneuvers are mysteriously transported back in time 400 years to feudal Japan.  They've got modern weapons including a tank, gunboat and a helicopter and they're going up against men with swords and arrows.  It kind of sounds ridiculously retarded, doesn't it?  Director Saito and pals pull this off almost without a hitch.  The almost part belongs to the soundtrack but everything else is absolutely fantastic. I last watched this in 2006 and I was worried it might not hold up a second time but it did.

The action is superb.  The big battle sequence near the end feels like it goes on forever and it's amazing how they were able to sustain an enjoyable and exciting war battle for so long.  It's incredible and it's got tension.  I was really worried how some of the character's fates would pan out.  There's also some great use of slow motion.  One more bit of praise before I get to the fucked up part.  There are a few scenes that are completely silent and they last a lot longer than most people would allow, and they're brilliant.

The score (by Kentaro Haneda) mostly works but it feels like it belongs to a different movie but that's not what's so strange; it's the songs.  You've got blues, country/folk and ballads that feel like they were dropped in just because the director said he wanted songs there and someone did it just to piss him off.  It's not as offensive as the first time I saw it so maybe it'll grow on me and the director is more brilliant than it seems but they're still awkward and don't fit and laughably so.  This isn't a deal killer by any stretch but it's the one thing that I would have to change if given the chance.  I can't stress enough how entertaining this flick is and you'll be shocked that they're able to maintain the awesome for 139 minutes.  Great ending, too, by the way.  Loved it.  I have it as part of the Sonny Chiba Collection that has 4 movies which includes the longest cut of G.I. SAMURAI.  Amazon has it right now for $3.86 and free shipping (for Prime members).  It's a friggin' steal at even double the price.

1 comment: