Monday, February 27, 2012

Revenge (Adauchi)

Here's the thing: this is the last samurai movie that I can find on Netflix Instant that I haven't already seen. I don't know what I'm going to do. I need samurai movies to survive!

Tadashi Imai's Adauchi (Revenge, in English) is an effective movie that covers ground well traveled in the samurai genre: You guessed it. Revenge. You know, how revenge only leads to madness and destruction, and the undoing of not only you, but your loved ones, etc. To seek revenge is a hollow endeavor.

Revenge is the story of Shinpachi Ezaki, a young samurai at the very bottom of the military ranks of his clan. When approached and dressed down by a man from another family, higher in the social strata, he stands up for himself, and is challenged to an illegal duel to the death. His brother tries to stop it from going down, but arrives too late. Shinpachi has won the duel.

Shinpachi's family, fearing the consequences his victory will bring, argue with the clan leader that both men broke into a temporary fit of insanity when the duel broke out, and rather than have him executed, Shinpachi is exiled to a monastery.

At the monastery, Shinpachi grows paranoid and unstable, without purpose or direction. His situation only worsens when the younger brother of the man he killed seeks him out for his own revenge, and he kills him too. The only way to peacefully solve this whole ordeal and maintain his own honor and that of both families is for Shinpachi to face the third brother of his rival in a duel and allow him to win.

Wow, hey, revenge is exhausting.

Revenge is a really well done samurai movie, made in a period where, as far as I can tell, every samurai movie was really well done. I have not been let down by a samurai movie from the 50's or 60's yet. I always kind of wondered what the other studios besides Toho were up to at this time. I don't think I've seen many. Most samurai movies that get released in America begin with that Toho Studios logo. I know there were other studios in Japan, and it was nice to see that they were making quality films too during Japan's most creatively fertile cinematic period.

My review probably didn't do it much justice, but the characters in Revenge had a lot of depth and subtlety, and the story was filled with tension. I really liked the lead guy's performance and also the old man who played the monk he befriends. I don't think I ruined too much of the story, even though I went kind of deep into it. I promise you I didn't spoil the ending. Check it out.

I hope Netflix Instant puts out some more samurai stuff before I go into withdrawal and start watching Yojimbo on a permanent loop.

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