Review: Geisha Assassin (2008)

With a title like Geisha Assassin (or Geisha Vs. Ninjas,the original title), expectations are certainly lowered from the get-go, but I had a glimmer of hope that this movie would at the very least be fun to watch; a guilty pleasure, if you will.  Well, if you find much pleasure here, you should certainly feel guilty about it.

The story is absurdly simple.  A geisha is trying to kill a samurai who killed her father.  Said samurai has put a bunch of fighters between them.  Ready?  Fight!  Seriously, that’s pretty much it.  If you enjoy watching a friend play Soul Caliber on easy difficulty, you might enjoy this.  Personally, I’d rather play along but my Xbox controller didn’t seem to affect the outcome of these fights at all!  With practically zero information on the characters until the third or fourth fight, this movie isn’t so much a story as it is a reel for the fight choreographer.

Director Go Ohara was previously an action director for films like OneChanbara, and it shows.  That’s basically all there is to this movie — fights.  That said, the fights are well done with the exception of too much wire work.  If you’ve seen one flying ninja, you’ve seen them all.  I think such flights of fancy take the edge off sword combat scenes as they take the action into the realm of fantasy wherein heroes rarely fail.

Scenic elements are gorgeous since they’re all real places, but, sadly, most are shot at night with bad lighting.  I imagine this choice was made to hide power lines and other modern elements in the background, but it does a disservice to the one thing this movie has going for it – its locations.

To add insult to injury, the transfer is the worst.  Shot on video, with bad lighting, this movie wasn’t super attractive to begin with, but this transfer doesn’t do it any favors.  Every problem in the book is present here – greyed out blacks, jaggies, stuttering, compression artifacts… I could go on, but there’s little point.  This movie looks BAD.

Sound doesn’t fare any better.  Sword clashes sound like a single sound effect played over and over and over.  I’ve seen Power Rangers episodes with better sound design.  Thankfully there’s no dubbing and the original Japanese language track is intact, but that’s the nicest thing I can say about the audio.

Look, I’m going to stop here.  I feel like I’m wasting letters.  Even though this is currently available on Netflix streaming, it isn’t worth the paltry 78 minutes of your time it takes to watch it.  Not recommended for anyone.


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