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Azumi (Unrated)

Release Date: July 21st, 2006 (Village East Cinemas) by AsiaVision.
The Cast: Aya Ueto, Shun Oguri, Hiroki Narimiya, Kenji Kohashi, Takatoshi Kaneko, Yuma Ishigaki, Yasuomi Sano, Aya Okamoto.
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
In Japanese with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Azumi (Ueto), an assassin, must kill three warlords in order to restore peace.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Azumi feels the most entertaining during the thrilling action sequences. Azumi, an orphan, gets trained to become an assassin by a mentor early on the film. Nine other orphans also become assassins, but things change when their mentor asks them to divide up into pairs. Their “test” is to simply kill their partner and only then can they go on their mission. One of the liveliest characters is Yae (Okamoto), an entertainer in make-up who befriends Azumi during her mission. Much of this film feels a bit derivative of other samurai films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers, but with much more blood and gore. Azumi, played convincingly by the Aya Ueto, comes across as very sexy, much like Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. Fortunately, director Ryuhei Kitamura includes many enough exciting battles between “good” and “evil” with plenty of cool stunts and CGI effects to entertain its target audience of samurai buffs. The cinematography is also quite breathtaking—for instance, the camera rotates full circle during one action sequence. Just don’t expect to care about any of the characters or any real drama—it's all just pure, bloody fun.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.


IN A NUTSHELL: Thrilling and exciting. A pulse-pounding ride with breathtaking visuals.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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