HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  East Meets West Cowboys and Samurai
Year: 1995
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Stars: Hiroyuki Sanada, Ittoku Kishibe, Naoto Takenaka, Tatsuya Nakadai, Angelique Midthunder, Scott Bachicha, Christopher Mayer, Richard Nason, Etsushi Takahashi, Jay Kerr, David Midthunder, Tom Adler, David V. Cordova, Jed Curtis, Richard Danielson
Genre: Western, Comedy, Action, Martial Arts, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1164 a band of ninjas and samurai led by Rentaro Katsu (Tatsuya Nakadai, from Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985)) are sent on a mission to the United States, protecting a cache of gold bound for struggling Japanese families in San Francisco. Local ladies note lead samurai Kamijo Kenichi (Hiroyuki Sanada, from Ring (1998) and The Twilight Samurai (2001)) is “sure ’nuff pretty”, while wacky ninja Tamajiro (Naoto Takenaka) can’t quite master the English language, beyond the words “I love you” - which keep getting him slapped by random women. The warriors stumble into the middle of a bank robbery, led by outlaw Gus Taylor (Christopher Mayer) who promptly makes off with their gold. Wrongly suspected of colluding with the outlaw, Kamijo teams up with a little boy called Sam (Scott Bachicha), whose father was shot dead in the robbery, to retrieve the gold and save the inhabitants of a silver mining town.

The late Kihachi Okamoto, lauded mainly for samurai movies and war epics, dipped his directorial wick into a diverse array of genres including science fiction, arty oddities, crime thrillers and even anime. Being a huge fan of westerns, Okamoto concocted this cockeyed homage, with fantastical flourishes courtesy of some ninja superpowers, that unfolds in both English and Japanese. East Meets West starts very well but sadly runs off the rails, hijacked by some strange supporting characters and ill-conceived plot quirks that confine superstar Hiroyuki Sanada to the sidelines until the exciting blades-and-bullets showdown. Interestingly, Sanada had done the whole cowboy thing before, except in reverse with Roaring Fire (1983) where he played a Texan-raised half-breed who has adventures in Japan, while co-star Tatsuya Nakadai (relegated to a glorified cameo) had been a spaghetti western villain in the obscure Today, It’s Me… Tomorrow, It’s You! (1968).

Okamoto has fun indulging Wild West clichés and crafts a literate screenplay laced with historical detail and episodes that pay tribute to classic scenes from John Ford movies, Shane (1953), High Noon (1952) and even that lesser known John Wayne vehicle The Cowboys (1972), but is ill-served by a cast of unknown American actors ill-equipped to convey its nuances. Which leaves it all the more frustrating when he zeroes in on hulking gunslinger-turned-schoolteacher Hardy (onetime soap actor Jay Kerr) and leaves the more interesting Kamijo and Sam pottering aimlessly in the background.

On paper Hardy presumably reads like a swaggering, monolithic John Wayne type but as played by Kerr is either bipolar or just plain weird. When Sam approaches him for help, Hardy’s first reaction is to spank the kid soundly for missing school. Remember this kid just saw his dad get shot! Thereafter, Hardy takes them home to his wife, who refuses to speak to him since she thought he was dead and already dug his grave. He starts the world’s most pointless bar fight, forms a gang made up of former school kids, converts them to the joys of drinking milk (another John Wayne reference?), and starts his crusade to clean up the lawless town by beating up those folks too frightened to fight back. Now, on a certain level everything Hardy does makes perfect sense (e.g. trying to keep kids on the straight and narrow; encouraging oppressed townsfolk to stand up for themselves), it’s mainly the glassy-eyed manner in which Kerr interprets the character that makes him so eccentric. When he launches into yet another windy soliloquy you’ll be longing for Kamijo to stab a katana in his back.

A broadly comedic yarn, this stirs the bawdy humour familiar from the ninja genre in with the knockabout comedy so beloved by John Ford. Most of the intentional laughs arise from Naoto Takenaka, so bug-eyed and off-the-wall he makes Marty Feldman look restrained, but this is a rare movie where the comedy relief gets the girl while the handsome hero rides solo. For while beautiful Native American princess Nantai (Angelique Midthunder - who now works as a casting director and documentary filmmaker) is introduced making eyes at heartthrob Hiroyuki Sanada, she winds up sharing a jail cell with Takenaka where, after the quickest seduction scene in screen history (basically, he sticks his head up her dress!), they wind up going at it in full view of the disgruntled sheriff.

Indeed, like Hardy, Tamajiro (or “Tommy” as he is christened by the American characters) dominates proceedings to a ludicrous degree, shouldering plot strands one normally expects would be reserved for the hero. He marries Nantai, bonds with her fellow tribesmen and teaches them some ninja tricks. Which leads to a silly scene where, while practicing their stealth attack, the pair get so hot and bothered they start having anal sex in the middle of the desert. “What are they doing?” asks young Sam. “Uh, practicing martial arts”, replies a worried-looking Kamijo.

Bizarrely, this light-hearted romp ends with an inexplicably downbeat coda that reveals the surviving heroes died from illness one year later, except for Tommy who becomes an Indian chief and lives to be one hundred and four. We then flash-forward to watch Tommy stagger to his melancholy death in the desert. If that sounds like weird way to end a comedy, well, that’s because it is.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3179 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Kihachi Okamoto  (1923 - 2005)

Veteran Japanese director who used his experiences during the Second World War to shape the outlook and tone of numerous anti-war films, such as 1959's Dokuritsugu Gurentai, and 1968's Nikudan (aka The Human Bullet). Okamoto also directed gangster pictures such as The Age of Assassins (1967) and samurai epics like Sword of Doom (1966) and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970), frequently casting the great Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. Okamoto slowed his work-rate afterwards, but still continued to direct for TV and cinema until his death.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: