Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno

Ah, no mood to write a proper review so I’ll do this the quick and simple way.

The Good

  • Casting! Particularly Sato Takeru reprising his role as Kenshin, Kamiki Ryunosuke as Seta Soujirou (I swear, this guy has a talent for playing coolly cruel young male characters), Iseya Yusuke as Shinomori Aoshi (I had my doubts but it turned out all right). Fujiwara Tatsuya was okay as the Big Bad Guy, Shishio Makoto. He spends about 90% of his screentime wrapped in the trademark bandages so you can’t really see his facial expressions, but I think he did fine considering that limitation.
  • Overall adaptation of the story. The original story arc was long and complex and must’ve been tricky to condense into two movies (the third movie will be out later this month!) although not a patch on the complexity of reducing The Lord of the Rings into three. They’ve had to take many liberties with certain events, some of which I’m not happy about – see below for my complaints, haha – but on the whole, I think it was adapted well.
  • The fight choreography! Tanigaki Kenji (who apparently studied under Donnie Yen) did a great job adapting Kenshin’s Hiten Mitsurugi style to the screen. It can’t have been easy to take a fantastical, nearly superhuman sort of fighting style that can only really exist in comics or in cartoons and make it look believable on screen. I gather that most of the stunts were done during production itself, not CGI. Kudos to them there. (That said, my favourite battle is still Kenshin’s fight at the dojo in the first movie. heh

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Best Film Fights

I was looking through some movies a couple of weeks ago, searching for some clips to use in one of my classes, and in the middle of that search I started wondering: what would I pick as the best movie fights I’ve seen?

After some contemplation, I’ve managed to whittle it down to a top five, with a bunch of honourable mentions. And in compiling this list, I’ve discovered the elements that make an on-screen fight “good” to me: outstanding (or at least interesting) fight choreography, good pacing, injections of humour or some sort of emotional gravity to the scene… and preferably, no one dies or is mortally injured.

So here’s what I think are the best five fights on film (in order of appearance):

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999)

The original Star Wars trilogy is better than the prequel trilogy in terms of storytelling and innovation but the fights simply cannot compare. For their time, the lightsaber battles in Episodes IV to VI were good, but the choreography of the prequel fights is rather different and much better – or better, at least, for the contemporary viewer’s eyes. It’s more fluid and more complex, as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan demonstrate here when they take on Darth Maul and his double-bladed lightsaber. (I appreciate how the person who uploaded the video has edited out all the other scenes – because in the movie, the fight was crosscut with Anakin’s scenes and Padme’s, which made it harder to appreciate the fight setup.)  There’s no humourous angle to this fight, but there is the shock of Qui-Gon’s death, which adds weight to the fight and makes Obi-Wan’s win at the end bittersweet. I daresay Obi-Wan wouldn’t have beat Darth Maul on his own if he wasn’t propelled by the agony of seeing his master go down like that…

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Rurouni Kenshin

Wanted to get this done before 2013 rolled in… but failed. So I guess this will kick off my 2013 blog posts instead of ending 2012? Anyway, here goes:

In a nutshell, Rurouni Kenshin is about Himura Kenshin, a wandering swordsman who has sworn never to kill again. (“Rurouni Kenshin” can be translated to “Kenshin the Wanderer”.)

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