Newest Reviews
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
School's Out Forever
Stump the Guesser
Newest Articles
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
  Dororo How to re-assemble a Samurai in 48 Easy Pieces
Year: 2007
Director: Akihiko Shiota
Stars: Kou Shibasaki, Satoshi Tsubamuki, Eita, Mieko Harada, Yoshio Harada, Kiichi Nakai, Anna Tsuchiya, Kumiko Aso, Hotori Gekidan, Satoshi Hakuzen
Genre: Horror, Martial Arts, Weirdo, Historical, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Originally an anime by Osamu Tezuka, Dororo has been re-envisioned as a big-budget samurai fantasy. And quite magnificent it is too. Opening on the aftermath of a bloody war, bodies lie strewn along the battlefield. Fleeing the scene, Kagemitsu Daigo (Kiichi Nakai) hides inside an isolated temple inhabited by forty-eight demons who answer his unholy prayer. In exchange for power to rule the world, Daigo promises forty-eight human organs belonging to his newborn son. Cast out by his parents, the freaky foetus is adopted by a kindly samurai-scientist (veteran samurai star Yoshio Harada), who grows him a new body thanks to some steampunk pseudo-science. Tezuka had a medical background that imbues the story with a Frankenstein aspect. Also a touch of Edward Scissorhands (1990), as the samurai boy gains swords for limbs and sharpens supernatural senses via martial arts, before his dying foster-father shares a secret.

Years later, handsome Hyakkimaru (Satoshi Tsubamuki) meets gutsy girl thief Dororo (Kou Shibasaki), whilst they battle a tavern-haunting spider-crab monster. A wandering minstrel tells Dororo the story behind the wandering demon-slayer: for every monster he kills, Hyakkimaru regains a missing body part. Dororo latches onto Hyakkimaru, hiding nascent romantic feelings behind a tomboyish swagger, and proves herself a fearless ally. Gravity-defying fight choreography from Ching Siu Tung propels their acrobatic encounters with cartoon horrors drawn straight from the manga: a white-haired butterfly witch with eyes on her wings; a giant tree demon with a kabuki mask face that morphs into a mass of murderous red ribbons; a rubbery lizard-man with a killer tongue; and red and purple talking hellhounds.

Not all of these yokai (Japanese spirits) are bad guys. The dynamic duo meet a huge demon baby made up of souls from children killed in a forest fire. Later they encounter a lone samurai who tragically tries to protect his demon wife and their six, identical little daughters - even though they’re really flesh-eating maggots! However, the real trouble starts when Hyakkimaru discovers his long-lost brother Tahomaru (Eita) and mother Yuri (acclaimed actress Mieko Harada, from Ran (1985)), whereupon Dororo discovers her precious pal was spawned by the warlord who killed her parents.

This was a surprise project for indie filmmaker Akihiko Shiota, who had previously made the offbeat sadomasochistic love story Moonlight Whispers (1999). Although Shiota delivers the swashbuckling action and eye-popping special effects one expects from a manga movie, it is the richly layered subtext and dramatic punch that makes Dororo truly stand out. At times its sweep and levels of near-Shakespearean tragedy evoke the samurai epics of Akira Kurosawa. Like other samurai manga of the 1960s, Osamu Tezuka wove socialist ideals and Buddhist philosophy into a fantasy-action-horror that also carries a strong pacifist message. Just as Lord Daigo sells his son to the demons, so too - as the manga argues - did Japan sell its soul for capitalist gain.

Shiota crams many of Tezuka’s original stories into a narrative that, while episodic, still flows quite beautifully with moments of poignancy, horror and laugh-out loud humour. Count how many times Dororo gets splattered by monster entrails. The title character is our eyes and ears, learning life lessons along the way as she ponders the existential question: what is right and wrong in a godless world? The forward-thinking Tezuka marries this with an additional question: what does it mean to be human in the age of genetic engineering.

Although his performance risks being one-note, Tsubamuki’s brooding, pretty-boy looks perfectly embody his character and he grows more animated the more human Hyakkimaru becomes. The real joy is in watching J-pop princess Kou Shibasaki go all-out, delivering a rowdy, raucous firecracker performance. I kid you not, she swaggers and struts like a young Toshirô Mifune, as Dororo slowly discovers the futility of revenge. Little wonder the heart-melting Shibasaki is Japan’s biggest multimedia star. There is a spaghetti western flavour to the finale that captures the warm, humanistic message in Tezuka’s manga. Sequels are set to follow.

Click here for the trailer

Click here to watch a clip from the 1968 Dororo anime
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2869 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan


Last Updated: