SAMURAI MARATHON 1855
SAMURAI MARATHON 1855, Dir. Bernard Rose, Well Go USA, Japan - UK, 103 min. 2019
With a spellbinding career spanning multiple genres, Bernard Rose has proven himself to be one of the most versatile directors working within the film industry today and possibly ever. From the urban horror masterpiece Candyman to the intense drama of ivansxtc, Rose has focused on interesting material regardless of source, adapting it for the big screen whilst netting many classics along the way.
So it should come as no surprise to see him switch yet again, this time to a genre commonly known as jidaigeki, or period drama, which typically focus on the Edo period of Japanese history and on the lives of samurais and commonfolk. The results here are nothing short of astounding.
Its the year 1855. After decades of isolation, Japan has started receiving trade ships from the rest of the world; amidst the new arrivals is an American merchant captain who brings with him whiskey, photography, and most importantly, pistols. These new-fangled weapons are seen as a threat to the ancient Samurai and their code of honor, so the Annaka clan devise a test to determine if their honorable men are ready should battle be necessary: a marathon in which any men under 50 must run, whereby the winner may ask of the master anything he may desire. Meanwhile, the Shogunate is fearful of the Annaka clans daimyo (feudal lord) and awaits word from their spy to see if they need to deploy their full might to crush the clan to smithereens. The stage is set for one spellbinding confrontation and an awe-inspiring marathon race against time.
Handsomely lensed by DP Takuro Ishizaka and featuring a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass, Samurai Marathon 1855 exhibits Roses talent at its utmost pinnacle. Set within a witchs cauldron of a time period in Japan, he deftly crafts multiple parties at odds to build to a climax that brings thunderous entertainment and intense scenes of action. Samurai Marathon 1855 is a film that was built for the grandeur of the Egyptians large screen; a rip-roaring adventure with impeccable performances and a brilliant understanding of a genre so rarely given its due in modern cinema. - Evrim Ersoy
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