Wow, what a mess. Samurai Fiction is the Japanese equivalent of A Knight’s Tale. Like that film, this is supposed to be a comedy. While I enjoyed a few moments, the over-stylized, anachronistic presentation was hard to get past. I never cared about what happened in the story because the overt style of the picture kept me at arms length. Sure, you can make a comedy with a few laughs and nothing more, but like any movies, the best comedies put story and character at the forefront.
Maybe this film played better when it was originally released in 1998. You know, back when Clerks was king of the indies. There are definitely some bold choices here, but I’m over the whole “let’s try to make video look like black and white film” thing. The bad rock guitar soundtrack is tiring too. Some of the shot choices are interesting and well-executed, but a random string of cool shots doesn’t necessarily make for a decent film (I’m talking to you, Underworld).
It’s obvious that director Hiroyuki Yakano got his start in music videos, as this film plays like most of the Hollywood failures helmed by music vid veterans. All style – no substance. I’m not sure how producers come to the conclusion that a guy who cuts a decent Britney vid is capable of directing a feature, but that’s the world we live in.
If you want something to put up on the big screen during a samurai-themed party (yeah,right), this might fit the bill. If not, I’d avoid it and spend my time on something better. Maybe catch a few episodes of Bleach instead.