Tatara Samurai

And with my review of Tatara Samurai, I will say that this is my final review of films from WorldFest in Houston. I watched over 20 films that were at the festival, and a handful of shorts, and still only reviewed like, 6-7 of those films.

But I was excited for Tatara Samurai. It was the only film from Japan and the description and picture associated with it just seemed to scream out quality. And to be honest, I would much rather have a samurai film come out of Japan than a Hollywood film trying to tell the same story. There will be a different amount of respect for the source material.

Most of all, we should get a lot of authenticity. Both in terms of location, story, and materials used. It could be as authentic as The Witch if they wanted it to be!

That horse looks authentic as fuck.

Set somewhere in the 16th Century Japan, we have feudal warlords feuding, and a lot of poor villagers get caught up in the crossfire. And I do mean crossfire! Because guns are starting to be a thing, and guns kill people hard. Harder than a sword, I guess.

Speaking of swords, the majority of this film takes place in the village of Tatara. A small community, somewhere in the mountains (slight joke, most of Japan is mountains). Gosuke (Sho Aoyagi) is our main character with a lot of legacy behind him. You see, he is destined to be a Murage. A Murage is someone who takes the local ores from their area and turns it into steel. The steel is then sent elsewhere to be turned into swords, swords that are more durable and powerful than any other local steel. They are the cream of the crop. The prada. The gucci. You know.

And Gosuke’s dad (Masahiro Komoto) just became the new Murage after his grandfather (Choei Takahashi) retired, meaning Gosuke’s training is about to increase ten fold. However, Gosuke has also been training in his sword fighting. He has dreams of becoming a samurai, but that is unheard of from people in small villages. Until they hear of Lord Oda Nobunaga, who will take any soldier and if they are good enough, make them a samurai.

His dreams could come true. But he would have to leave home, throw away his family destiny, and go on a voyage. And if he does leave, what will he truly be leaving behind at home, and how will they change without him?

Also starring Naoki Kobayashi, Akira, Toru Shinagawa, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Anna Ishii, Tomoko Tabata, Denden, and Shun Sugata.

He was so poor, he had to train in a flooded valley with a stick.

Tartara Samurai was not what I expected, in a good way. I expected a lot of action. I expected extreme fight scenes. What I got was a period drama, set in a war, about a small community not sure of what to do.

And I also got a shit ton of authenticity, like I talked to at the start. I am not an expert in 16th century Japan, let alone how they make steel, but I HAVE to assume, based on how delicately they showed the process that it was all 100% real. It was astounding to see the number of people involved and how many hours it must have took just to melt it all down. On the same level of authenticity, there was a small scene with a boat. But there is no way that boat was CGI. It was a straight up, 400 year old style boat they either built or borrowed for this film. It was maybe on screen for a minute and it was so gorgeous.

Everything else is fine too. The plot doesn’t go the way I expected, but the characters behave as one would expect, a lot of respect for families, custom, and all that stereotypical Japanese shit. The acting is fine, the small amount of conflict there is is nicely choreographed.

This is not a film for those expecting a lot of action. But a nice period piece made with a lot of passion behind the project, and you will end up loving it.

3 out of 4.

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