Monday, June 20, 2016

Film Review: Sword of the Stranger (2007)

Sword of the Stranger (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The story is predictable but engaging, the action is spectacular, the art is beautiful, and the animation is superb."

Kotaro, a young boy, is hunted by a group of skilled swordsmen from the Ming dynasty for a mysterious reason...

Sword of the Stranger is a fairly simple film, especially in terms of character. The film follow Kotaro, who is being hunted in Japan by a group of swordsmen from the Ming dynasty. In his attempt to escape, Kotaro runs into a nameless ronin dubbed "No Name." Kotaro hires No Name as his bodyguard, paying the ronin to escort him to a temple. Well, it's not such a simple task when betrayal is necessary for survival. The reasons for hunting Kotaro are interesting, but it doesn't delve too much into it, which is a bit disappointing. Still, the story kept me engaged up to its bloody, action-packed climax.

Sword of the Stranger is a great action film. The story is predictable, following a very familiar formula, but it was also very engaging. It kept me hooked from beginning to end, especially thanks to its fair balance of action, humor, and character development. The characters, however, aren't very original. In fact, these characters feel like they were plucked from other animes. You have the nameless ronin, who suffers from nightmares due to his horrifying past, a master swordsman searching for a worthy opponent, and the bratty child. The characters aren't annoying, but some originality would have gone a long way. In terms of action, it will be hard to find better samurai swordplay in an anime. It's bloody, it's gory, and it's fast – excellent.

I watched the original Japanese and Mandarin dub. The cast perform well, delivering their lines with great enthusiasm and emotion. The film is beautiful. The art is gorgeous and the animation is fluid. The music is also fantastic, matching the mood and era of the film. The film is written by Fumihiko Takayama and directed by Masahiro Ando. There are a few issues, like the lack of original character and occasional exposition, but the writing was otherwise good. The direction was also great, capturing the vibe of a classic samurai film in anime form. At the same time, it doesn't sacrifice anything, like the plentiful gore. It's a nice balance.

Overall, Sword of the Stranger is a great film. The story is predictable but engaging, the action is spectacular, the art is beautiful, and the animation is superb. If you're simply looking for some swords and blood, you'll love this. It has a few flaws, but it is definitely worth watching for fans of the genre.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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