47 Ronin (2013)

“None of us are samurai!”

words: desmond “neo” childs


47 Ronin is a tale about a group of “failures”–underdogs who are supposed to be disgraced. Ironically enough,

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I’m kicking off the marathon with Vampire Hunter D, the first movie from 1985! It’s based on the novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, and the film was directed by Toyoo Ashida. Mr. Toyoo’s career is pretty extensive and goes back as far as the mid-sixties. He developed his unique style working on Dr.Slump, and founded production studio Studio Live. He also co-founded Japanese Animation Creators Association (JAniCA) along with the late-Satoshi Kon. Expect to get a nice mix of action and strong, fantastically dark adventures in this one!



Preview: Golgo 13 lands on our Golden Shelf of Glory

He’s just great at everything! Being the world’s best sniper? Check. Being involved in some of the most awkwardly-animated love scenes in anime? Check. He’s Togo. DUKE TOGO!

Recapped!: “Bullet Explosion” (2004)

Little Brother! You are no longer allowed to call me your brother!”

words: Desmond Childs

I often think back to the simpler times of my life. I was making moves. Training hard. My brother and I were going to take the next big step toward becoming true Yakuza. We only needed to kill this rival boss. Oh my gosh! This is the best day ever, because I also just got a text from my girlfriend saying she’s pregnant! Wow! Things sure are looking up. Oh wait. Maybe I shouldn’t be a gangster. Hey, little brother? I killed this gangster, but I won’t you to take the credit for it. I want to go straight and work hard to support my new family!

The above text was me paraphrasing the main character of the movie Bullet Explosion‘s thoughts, both verbal and unspoken early in the movie. The film kind of shows us how much of a drag it is to be this has-been gangster. We see him wake up. He changes pants, lovingly dropping the discarded pair on his sleeping girlfriend’s face. Then they say their goodbyes as he heads over to the nearest gambling establishment. There he actually manages to win a decent amount of cash. Then things take a turn…FOR THE WORSE! He gets jumped in an alleyway and is saved by his younger brother, who is a Yakuza. His brother (who I’ll refer to as little brother), is a captain in one of the bigger gangs in Japan. Er, I mean Tokyo. So little brother tries to wine and dine our protagonist into joining the gang as it’s enforcer (hitman). From here the movie becomes a very pedestrian story about a silly, pointless feud between family members. The movie tries to throw some “tried and true” themes at us with things like loyalty and honor. The silly thing about this movie is how quickly the relationship between the two brothers devolves int o pure hatred.

The older brother, the one the movie wants us to side with, is clearly crummy, stale shell of a person. He gambles on a daily basis. One can only imagine how promiscuous he is, as his wife seems to only go to work or stay home most days. Don’t get me started on how the women in this movie are portrayed. I’ll just say that director Atsushi Yamamura needed a dumb, housewife and a trophy-hooker and he hired people to fill those roles. Not really any character development. No real depth. Just girlfriend, hooker, and housewives in this movie. Uh, really? This movie came out in 2004. There’s no excuse for that. I’m not saying we needed the women in this movie to be like uber-Yakuza ninjas or anything, but the writers and Yamaura needed to give them something to do. Anyway, the two brothers in this film, who never really appear to be that close to each other, battle through the last two-thirds of the film. What lead to this intense, deadly showdown. Was it because of a woman? Was it because of a betrayal? I won’t spoil. I’ll let those who are interested indulge.

If I sound unimpressed with Bullet Explosion, it’s because I am. It was just so boring! You’d think with a title like Bullet Explosion, there’d be guys being shotgun blasted through windows. But instead we get a fat, smelly standoff at the end. I wasn’t connected with the characters. The writers didn’t flesh them out well enough for me to care. I didn’t like how the actor who portrayed the younger brother was unable to show any real emotion. He did a lot of glaring. I dunno if that’s like scary or something, but it just made it seem like he was a weird, awkward jerk. The story itself, at least the premise, easily could have contained more action sequences but instead we’re stuck following characters through alleyways as they try to escape. What are they escaping? Who cares. Maybe the running in this movie signifies the running into the ground of what could have been an otherwise, gun-tastic thrilling film. And one more thing, I don’t watch movies called “Bullet Explosion” for the story, but when the action is lacking like it is here, and the rest of the movie is mediocre; I’m going to attack! It’s only right. Don’t ask me if I would recommend this. Cause if you do, I’ll be there-RAINING DOWN A BULLET EXPLOSION ON YOUR @#$!

NOTE: I could not find a trailer for this movie because it’s awful. At least I’m not the only one who thinks so.