Sci Fi and Samurai!
P. A Clark | San Jose, CA USA | 11/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Moon Over Tao is yet another Sci Fi film by Ketia Amemiya staring Yuko Moriyama and it's a good one at that.
The film starts when a Shogun assigns the task of aquiring some extremely powerful swords to a samurai, Sir Hayate, and a wondering monk, Suikyo. The swords happen to be in the hands of a group of bandits run by Lord Kakugyo, who can also use magic. On their journey, they rescue a young girl named Renge, who happens to be an orphan living on her own in a forest. Prior to meeting the two men, Renge is given a device by an alien female, which is used to stop a creature called the Makaraga.
The three eventually make it to the bandits hideout where they battle the bandits, as well as the Makaraga. They also have a showdown with Lord Kakugyo. The three are aided by two different aliens played by Yuko Moriyama. In fact, there are three aliens in the film, all of whom are played by Yuko Moriyama. However, the aliens are in a dispute over the use of the Makraga as a weapon on their own world and are also in battle with one another. I'll let you find out the rest of the story when you see the film.
Moon Over Tao is an excellent balance between a Samurai film, and a Sci Fi film. There are tradtional Samurai battles, as well as some B movie special effects which come across well. Ketia Amemiya creates an intersing world and adds some nice action scenes between both the humans, and the creature. Yuko Moriyama does a nice job of playing all three aliens. They are easily distinguished by threir hair styles. And the film is shot in a way that dos'nt make it confusing. The film also has a catchy soundtrack which is a cross between modern and traditonal Japanese music. (Unlike any soundtrack I've heard) To be fair I will say that the creature looks a little strange at times, due to some lower grade CGI effects, but not every film can be a Hollywood budgeted film. Once you get used to it, it's not a big deal.
Tokyo Shock is the release company on this film, and they have both Japanese and English dubbed language tracks on the disc. The English version is actually pretty good. But that is about the extent of the special features, except for some trailers of other films.
Overall I would say this is one of my favorite Japanese films, due to the freshness of the story and the creativity of the film. (A nice break from Hollywood releases) The film got a 4 only becuase the begining of the film was a tad bit slow.(a minor inconvienence though)
If you're into films outside the scope of Hollywood, Samurai films, or Sci Fi Films, give Moon Over Tao a try. It's worth a watch, and in my case, it was worth buying."
Beware Metorites Bearing Gifts
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 06/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Moon Over Tao is samurai science fiction. On a quest for the source of a magical sword Suikyo, a warrior monk, and Hayate, a samurai, meet Renge, a young girl. At night she sees lights in the sky and witnesses the landing of three alien women, all played by Yuko Moriyama. An evil stone (the Makaraga) has crashed on the Earth and fallen into the hands of Kakugyo, a dark priest. The Aleans seek to recover the stone but they are not in agreement about what to do with it and have a falling out.In the meantime Suikyo, Hayate, and Renge seek a bandit hideout whre the swords came from. By a twist of fate, the swords were made from the meteoric metal that protected the Makaraga on its trip through space. Thus, everyone converges on Kakugyo as he works his plans for conquering Japan. Renge bears a secret weapon - the Tao - a gift from one of the alien women who died of her wounds in Renges arms.There is quite a bit more to the story that is surprisingly rich for an action film. Amemiya spends a great deal of attention to making the setting a believable 16th century Japan, and then overlays a science fiction flavor, and does this without sounding a false note. Character development gets a surprising amount of attention. Of course there's plenty of sword fighting and flying parts. All of these compontents are carefully balanced.Of the three major Kieta Amemiya films, Moon over Tao has become my favorite. Admittedly, It lacks the space opera silliness of Zeiram II, and the non-stop special effects of Kakaider. But on the plus side is the well crafted plot plot and believable acting. For those of us who like special effects, there's magical spellwork, alien costumes, and a superb monster. Amemiya demonstrates that, given the necessary resources, he can produce a superior product."
Samurai+sorcery+sci-fi=Moon Over Tao
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 09/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How's this for a combination? Samurai, sorcery and sci-fi? Well, that's what's in store for you if you check out Moon Over Tao-Makaraga.
It is the Sengoku-jidai, or the Period of the Warring States, sometime during the 16th century, in Japan. Lord Tadaoki, a player in the game to take control of Japan, sends his former military advisor Suikyo, now a hermit-priest/sorcerer who has come down from the mountains, to seek out the source of a sword made out of "a special, superior kind of steel." He is accompanied by Hayate, Tadaoki's laconic chief samurai.
Their quest takes them through the woods, where they meet Renge, a plucky self-reliant young girl armed only with a dagger given her by her late grandfather. Together, they track down the source of the sword's steel to a cold-blooded archenemy of Suikyo who wants nothing more than "a power strong enough to place absolute fear into the hearts of men."
And what is the Makaraga? Without giving anything away, Renge says it best: "something that is never to be used." And the Tao is a gun-like device with a yin-yang motif.
The battle scenes are great but the blood spills like wine (or should that be sake?) in many scenes. Suikyo comes through as a reliable fighter whose main weapon gives a new meaning to the phrase, "the pen is mightier than the sword." The recurring music theme is contemporary light drum machines with a violin that comes in, and helps set the atmosphere.
Toshiyuki Nagashima gets a big-up, playing Suikyo as someone with a dignified, compassionate nature, a great contrast to the gruff and rough Hayate.
Yuko Moriyama (Iria in the Zeiramu movies) has a triple role as Abira, Marien, and Kuzto, the three aliens who have tracked the Makaraga to Earth, and the makeup between the three are different enough that one forgets she's playing all of them.
However, Sayaka Yoshino is appealing as the pre-teen/early teen Renge. Her shorts and high boots give the same eye-opening sensation like Silvana Mangano's outfit in Bitter Rice.
Roots of this movie include the usual samurai movies, but Suikyo is a variation of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the aliens bug-like helmets reminded me of either Zuckuss or 4-LOM in Empire Strikes Back. Their suits are clearly based on SCUBA gear. And Renge's statement about the Makaraga hints to Japan's being the only country to have experienced nuclear devastation. An interesting twist on the samurai movie.
A Science Fiction Samurai Flick: Worth A Watch!
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 03/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are glowing reviews of this film, and I would suggest caution before you rush out and buy this particular DVD. Rent it first. This is one of those types of films that may not appeal to many viewers. "Moon Over Tao" is not a bad film, but it is not a very good film either. Once again, rent it first. This fantasy film was directed by Keita Amemiya in the late 1990s. The film centers around a warring clan which happens to make swords out of a meteor which landed on earth. This meteor has properties which enable the clan to produce powerful swords from it. Therefore, a swordsman and a monk are sent to find out where these swords are being made.
Inside the meteor there is a powerful weapon, and guess who's looking for it? Yep, the aliens from another world. The film is set in medieval Japan, therefore you have a samurai sci-fi: Which is appealing in itself. The swordsman and the monk come across a young girl who tells them of three alien warriors who are all women. They are: Abira, Marien, and Kutzo, which are all portrayed by (Yuko Moriyama). There is a falling out between these aliens, and the girl is given a bell by one of the survivors which can control the evil inside the meteor. The evil is an alien monster: Makaraga.
This film is interesting, and will appeal to some viewers, therefore, I do not wish to discourage others from viewing the film. I liked it when it first came out, however, after viewing it again last night, it did not seem to hold up too well over time. One of the pluses in the film is the portrayal of the swordsman Hayate (Hiroshi Abe), and the monk Suikyou (Toshiyuki Nagashima), I thought there performances were very good. Not that a film such as this is what viewers are looking for. However, it is always a plus in any film.
Moreover, for a very low budget film, the action is pretty good and very well done. Therefore, if you don't mind silly, weird and just plain fun in a film you will probably enjoy the film. I have seen this film going for much less at many of the Asian video stores that I purchase my films from, than the price listed here on amazon. However, if you decide to purchase this film, do not go into the film expecting a great film. It is average at best. But once again, it will appeal to some. I do recommend however that you rent it first. And if you're into monster flicks, then the evil monster inside the meteor, MAKARAGA, will not disappoint those of the genre. [Stars: 3.5]"