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Askew Review 15

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(Asia Vision Films) 2003.  Action/Samurai nuttiness. 128 minutes. Not rated. Violence, blood. Itís the 19th century in Japan and the country is being shredded by violent rival warlords who kill for power and for fun. Foreseeing a terrible future for his country, a master Samurai takes ten orphans under his wing and teaches them for a decade to be merciless and unstoppable assassins. After passing the worst final exam ever, the young Samurai, including the lone female, Azumi (Aya Ueto), head out to kill in the name of their beloved country. Out in the battlefield, the Samurai are more than shocked with the hardship of their mission, both physically and mentally, and each must decide which path to travel.
  Picturesquely shot and dancing with aesthetic violence, Azumi is stunning to the eye while emotionally gripping the heart. The viewer canít help but like the fledging Samurai and connect with each oneís direction. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (who is set to direct Clive Barkerís Midnight Meat Train), the action is exhausting, locations and sets beautiful, and the cinematography is jaw dropping. A part of the climatic battle scene is dizzyingly shot and underscores the emotions of its combatants. Blood hounds will dig the spraying blood carnage and one amusing amputation. There is some of the flying around nonsense seen in most modern day Samurai/Ninja movies, but it is easily overlooked. The soundtrack also leaves something to be desired. Japanese and English audio is available, as well as subtitles. A second DVD includes a host of extras; three Azumi documentaries, cast and crew profiles, and a hidden music video. The 128 minute runtime went by in the blink of an eye. Oh, how dare I nearly forget? Yes, Aya Ueto is a babe and I look forward to watching Azumi 2! Ė Denis Sheehan



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