Details: The live-action adaptation to the bestselling manga and hit anime series Rurouni Kenshin (or Samurai X) was directed by Keishi Otomo and featured stars Takeru Satō as Himura Kenshin and Emi Takei as Kamiya Kaoru. Adapting the arcs of the original story, the film follows Himura Kenshin, a wandering samurai in the Meiji period who had kept his oath not to kill with his blade. It was released August 25 2012 in Japan (late 2012 in the Philippines); runs for 134 minutes. Set to have sequels, yay!
Review: I am very fortunate to have stumbled upon this film; in a meta sense I was actually saddened by the lack of publicity for this brilliant work. If it wasn’t for my brother casually saying he was off to watch a movie, I wouldn’t have known about this at all. But perhaps this is one of those ‘hidden things yielding great treasures’; Rurouni Kenshin is one of the most refreshing and captivating comic/cartoon to live action adaptations I have ever watched, and I definitely recommend it.
Without any familiarity with Japanese celebrities, I can say that the cast for the movie was spot-on; between one scene to the next, the actors portray a mixed range of cartoonish and serious gestures. Their physicality, expressions and appearance match the characters portrayed in the cartoon (so kudos to that department). Takeru Sato, in particular, brings to life Kenshin’s character from the sharpness of his sword to the quirkiness of his movements. The acting and choreography –highlighting especially the fight scenes and styles, which are wonders unto themselves– are joined by the setting and direction in staying true to the spirit of the manga. Another point for the film was the way it incorporates historical events and quirks. Costumes and mannerisms appear authentic and very rich; the atmosphere alone is a great showcase of Japanese culture. And the film goes even beyond staying true to the spirit of the manga. Exact scenes are lifted from the black and white pages, delighting me and all others who have been fans of the original. In this sense it went the opposite direction to the likes of the Legend of the Seeker film, or even worse, that Dragonball movie nobody likes to talk about.
Cinematographically speaking, the shots have a very unique and contrasting qualtiy to it; alternately brilliant or dark, it gives miles in setting the soul of the scene and in giving the audience aesthetic scenic feasts. The soundtrack has a very asian feel and is remarkably persuasive, with the tempo setting the background to a fast-paced fight or a more even-paced dramatic duel. Though at times the soundtrack does overwhelm the scene, or conversely the lack of it makes it boring (forgivable, however, as the OST is so lovely I have it on my phone). Barring few changes to the manner and pace things progressed, which are all necessary to keep with the time (the length and pacing of which the only negative point about the film), the film is pretty much the Rurouni Kenshin I (well, my brother) grew up with and loved.
Other movies watched recently:
Sisterakas (2012), an official Metro Manila Film Festival entry (Star Cinemas and Viva Films) starring Kris Aquino, Vice Ganda and Ai Ai de las Alas and directed by Wenn Deramas, is a comedy film with lots of plot holes and questionable character and relationship development. It’s a good film if you want a good laugh (though there are flat jokes), or if you want to feel slightly uncomfortable about clothing choices (except for Kris Aquino’s), this is a good choice, but not, I think, deserving of its box office status or 3rd best picture fame.