Monday, March 9, 2015

Film Review: Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (2014)

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Deltamac HK)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...the definition of exhilarating and epic."

Kenshin Himura (Takeru Satoh) has settled into a life of peace with his newfound friends. Soon, he's called upon by the government to stop a new evil that threatens Japan...

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno continues to follow Kenshin Himura after his important meeting with the government. Makoto Shishio (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a former assassin like Kenshin, was betrayed by the government -- stabbed, lit on fire, and left for dead. Shishio, however, survived the brutal betrayal. Consequently, Shishio plans to overthrow the government and watch the world burn -- particularly, watch Kyoto burn. Reluctant at first, Kenshin eventually agrees to aid in the hunt for Shishio. The film leads to an epic climax and a good ending -- if I didn't have The Legends Ends waiting for me, I probably would've been a little disappointed, though.

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is a superb film. Before I get any deeper into this review, I should note: I am not familiar with the anime or manga, other than knowing of its existence. Anyway, this film was fantastic. The story kept me hooked from beginning to end. Although old, I liked the idea of overthrowing the government, a group of villains joining forces, and two equally-skilled samurai facing off. The buildup to the climax is excellent, too. All of the action isn't saved up for the end, either. There are bits and pieces of excellent action set pieces scattered throughout. In turn, we get a very balanced film -- story, characters, and action blend together for a seamless and enjoyable experience.

The action, in particular, is absolutely phenomenal. The swordplay is simply amazing. There are plenty of fluid and ferocious action scenes. Whether it's Kenshin vs 20 inept foes or Kenshin vs an all-powerful adversary, the action impresses. The choreography is, at times, breathtaking thanks in part to the superb cinematography and camerawork. I suppose, everything blends together magically to propel the action beyond most movies nowadays. It may not be the most realistic samurai swordplay, but it is the definition of exhilarating and epic. If I had one complaint, I suppose I'd like more background character for Shishio and The Ten Swords he gathers. Then again, The Legend Ends may fill that gap, so I don't fault it too harshly... (If The Legend Ends fails to fill the gap, that film may take the blame.)

The acting was generally great. It was a little melodramatic at times, but nothing too over-the-top. Takeru Satoh is great as Kenshin. Tatsuya Fujiwara didn't really get the chance to shine as Shishio, but the glimpse we got shows great promise. As I stated earlier, the film looks beautiful thanks to vibrant cinematography and the fluid camerawork -- it created a very engaging experience. The music is epic -- partly due to the music, I had goosebumps throughout my body for most of the film's runtime -- I loved it. As I also stated earlier, the action choreography was top-notch. Director Keishi Ōtomo finds a satisfying balance between story, character, and action -- it makes a two hour twenty minute film feel like a mere hour. Director Keishi Ōtomo crafted a world I was fully immersed into.

Overall, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno is a fantastic film. It's easily one of the best action films of 2014. Although I can't speak for fans of the anime or manga, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and characters, as well. Furthermore, if you enjoyed the original Rurouni Kenshin film, which I can speak for, I think you'll love this film. Don't miss it!

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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