Ashura Yojiro Takita

Ashura Yojiro Takita

Those who like to scrutinise movies for their "mythic” or "archetypal” content should have a whale of a time with this bluntly supernatural samurai extravaganza. Alas, those looking for a movie about something other than demons and dumbness are in for a rough ride. The Edo-set story revolves around Izumo (kabuki star Somegoro Ichikawa), an ex-member of the demon hunting "wardens” who hung up his sword when he accidentally killed a non-demon child. Five years later, he’s working as a kabuki actor when all of a sudden, acrobatic thief Tsubaki (Rie Miyazawa) falls into his life. Little does he know that this amnesiac beauty is actually destined to be the vessel for the rebirth of Ashura, Queen of Demons, and that his old warden buddy Jaku (Atsuro Watabe) is in with the demonic elements. Will Edo burn with her wrath or will love conquer all? To be honest, they’re not terribly interesting questions, because neither the picture nor the script have anything resembling wit or style. In fact, the whole thing seems pretty hokey, with Izumo throwing out action movie quips while imploring the demonic Tsubaki to listen to her heart. Way overlong at 119 minutes, it wears out its welcome fairly early on and has you rolling your eyes for the rest of the duration. Extras include two "making of” featurettes. The first, after treating us to clips of the play that inspired the film (which looks just as tacky), gives us the vague blathering of the creative team to no visible gain. The second, about the special effects, is a little more precise, with the FX supervisor making important distinctions between the model work and CGI. Rounding things out are some of AnimEigo’s scarily thorough production notes. (AnimEigo/Peace Arch)