Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Somegoro Ichikawa, Rie Miyazawa, Kanako Higuchi, Atsuro Watabe, Fumiyo Kohinata
Director: Y˘jir˘ Takita
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Demons hunger to walk the streets of Edo, and all that stands in their way are the fearsome warriors known as Demon Wardens. But when Izumo, their greatest swords- man, accidentally slays an innocent child, he vows never ... more »
Classic Japanese theatre backdrop and love story
Crysta | Washington D.C. | 03/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this film, and i love Kabuki theatre as well. Its an old japanese tell about love and the end of the world. The cool thing is this story was originally made as a play and the main character in this movie is a traditional Kabuki theatre actor. He even plays the same character in the theatre. This guy brings a warm element of Kabuki in this movie and i cannot stress it enough.
You will love this movie. The graphics arent too cheesy and the beauty of some of backdrops will stick in your mind. Even the music adds to the film and gives it a soul.
You will not be disappointed. It may be graphic for the young ones as it has sex and violence. id give it more than 5 stars as if i could but i cant!
you wont be disappointed a must have for Japanese culture, play\theatre, and mythology enthusiasts ."
A world of demons and fire and love
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 01/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kabuki has always been the secret heart of Japanese film. When the first motion picture cameras arrived in Japan, they immediately started filming Kabuki performances for posterity, and have never really stopped since. Kabuki's visual and storytelling style flavors all most all Japanese films, from big productions like Cutie Honey to kabuki-trained actress Inou Rie and her particular movements as Sadako in Ring.
It is rare, however, for modern Kabuki plays to be adapted directly into film. Nakashima Kazuki's "Ashurajo no Hitomi (1987)" ("The Eye of Castle Ashura") was a big enough hit that in 2005 director Takita Yojiro (Onmyoji) used it as the basis for his martial-arts fantasy film of the same name. As the lead he even cast Ichikawa Somegoro, who had made the role famous in the Kabuki theater. It was a bold and ambitious experiment.
The story is huge in scope. In a magical time of old Japan, a time when demons walk the earth, Wakuraba Izumo (Ichikawa) is a powerful Demon Warden, who is charged with seeking out and killing demons where he can find them. His faith in himself is shaken one day when he accidentally kills a young girl. Abandoning his host, he loses himself as an actor in the kabuki theater, a place where you past makes no difference. Into this world comes Bizan (Higuchi Kanako from Ronin Gai), a queen of demons who wants to awaken the reincarnated Ashura and bring Hell to Earth. Bizan is aided by Jaku, a demon warder gone rogue, and thousands of green-blooded demons. Izumo finds a companion and love interest in the beautiful thief Tsubaki (Miyazawa Rie from The Twilight Samurai), who might just be the person Bizan is searching for.
"Ashura" is a fantastic film, but not 100% successful. Japan has never really got a handle on the martial arts fantasy film, although there have been improvements over the years. There are some great strides here in special effects, and getting Ichikawa for the role was a true coup. Only someone with kabuki experience could have pulled off the role, especially the scenes of Izumo as a kabuki actor. The story is epic, with flaming skies and demon armies and a scale that has never been attempted in Japanese film before. It is an awesome spectacle.
That is its problem at the same time, however. One of the thrills of kabuki is the special effects, those moments of stage-craft that blow you mind when they are performed live in front of you. Something that produces wonderment in real life, like the burning city of Tokyo and a floating castle, just doesn't have the same impact when summoned up by computer skills.
As an adapted kabuki play, the action and story are pure melodrama, which is something I love. Anyone expecting a "straight" film needs to do some research on kabuki before they check this out, to give them a better idea of what to expect. Animeigo has helped you out by producing a beautiful DVD to go along with the ground-breaking film, including and extra disk with features on the original play and its adaptation. As always, Animeigo continues to create the best subtitles in the business that include pop-up cultural notes along with the regular dialog, creating a whole package that can be used to study this bit of Japanese culture while watching a great flick."