» » Satomi hakken-den (1983)

Short summary

Eight mysterious crystals from the body of a long-dead princess now identify the eight samurai who are destined to help a beautiful young princess overcome a curse on her family. They go against an evil queen who bathes in blood to retain her youthfulness. The queen and her son live in a castle protected by many monsters and goblins and assorted apparitions, including giant flying snakes. Many swords, lots of sorcery and plenty of blood.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Simple fellow
    LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI (1983) is a live-action Japanese costume fantasy retelling the oft-told tale of eight warriors identified by their receipt of magic crystal balls sent by a long-dead princess to insure protection of her descendants. Here, the eight warriors who receive the crystal balls come together to protect the fugitive Princess Shizu of the Satomi Clan, which has been all but wiped out by the supernatural descendants of the Hikita Clan. The action is larded with fantasy elements, including a couple of monsters (a giant centipede and giant snake) and the long-lived evil matriarch Tamazusa (Mari Natsuki) who stays alive a hundred years after her 'death' at the hands of the Satomi Clan by taking special baths in blood.

    Despite the title, there's no mention of samurai in the film's English-dubbed dialogue. The characters refer to each other as ninjas, even though few ninja costumes or accessories are visible. It's an unwieldy film with over a dozen major characters, none of whom take center stage until well past the film's half-way mark. The main focus of the plot is the gathering of the eight warriors as they meet and realize their destiny to protect the princess and attack Tamazusa's castle to destroy the Eternal Spirit who keeps alive the evil remnants of the Hikita Clan. Too much of the film is spent on gathering the eight, a task which is not completed until 100 minutes into the 133-minute film. When things finally get going here, the main characters turn out to be Princess Shizu (Hiroko Yakushimaru) and the reckless young Shinbei (Hiroyuki Sanada) who kidnaps Shizu at one point and travels quite a distance with her before they're reunited with the others. Both are too callow and unformed to be of much interest, while the more exciting characters, such as the loyal retainer Dosetsu (Sonny Chiba) and the female fighter Kano (Sue Shiomi), get far less screen time.

    The climactic battle at Castle Tamazusa is rousing and full of action, but it proves too little too late to compensate for the two hours it took to get there. The earlier action scenes are all too short and choppy to generate much excitement. To make matters worse, the English dubbing is particularly horrendous and the tacked-on music score is all synthesizer-created with three incongruous American pop songs (sung by John O'Banion) thrown onto the soundtrack with utter disregard for the historical and cultural tone of the film.

    The film is especially disappointing because it was directed by Kinji Fukasaku, a highly regarded director known for Yakuza (gangster) films and the recent box office hit BATTLE ROYALE (2000). His earlier space opera, MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978), was a variation of the same story told in LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI and featured some of the same cast members, Hiroyuki Sanada, Sonny Chiba and Sue Shiomi (who played the princess in that one). Fukasaku also gave us the U.S.-Japanese co-production, THE GREEN SLIME (1968).

    On the plus side, LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI is quite colorful and beautifully appointed and the special effects are, for the most part, pretty impressive. (The giant centipede, flung about on wires, is the notable exception.) But the film lacks the formal beauty of traditional Japanese samurai films and seems pumped up in style, with the youthful romance played up, in order to suit the 1980s youth audience. For U.S. fans, the botched English soundtrack and over-length are quite fatal, along with the absence of any exceptional action scenes until the very end. The story comes from the 19th century Japanese novel 'Nanso Satomi Hakkenden,' by Bakin Takizawa, which was also the basis for the breathtaking 13-part animated series, THE HAKKENDEN (1990). Elements of the story also turn up in the original 'Dragon Ball' animated TV series.
  • comment
    • Author: Akisame
    Every once and awhile (Normally among the younger generation, such as myself) you will see a movie and think "Wow, every movie I have ever SEEN has stolen ideas from this!" You will probably be overjoyed, having finally found that one adrenaline pounding action flick that you've always searched for. Thats how I felt when I first saw "Yojimbo" anyway. "BUT!", you say, "this isn't about "Yojimbo"! You need to explain the "Legend of the Eight Samurai"!" And indeed I do, but first, the comparison has to be made. If "Yojimbo" is the movie that every martial arts director has in some way emulated, "Legend of the Eight Samurai" ("LOTES") is the movie that every Japanese made videogame has, in some way, borrowed from. Stop reading if you want to be surprised, but I will present the partial list of comparisons between this film and classic videgames.

    Plot Summary: There are a group of warriors (Almost any videogame) who possess Eight Glowing Crystals (The original final fantasy, other crystal-heavy games) which must save a Princess (Mario, Zelda, Lolo, etc.) from an Evil Evil Demonically Resurrected Warlord With Weird Magic Monster Stuff (Castlevania, Final Fantasy, etc.). Along the way, an unlikely hero (almost every videogame ever) will enlist the help of a Ninja Assassin (any videogame from the 80's), the One Bad Guy Who Turns Good at the Last Minute(any Final Fantasy Game), the One Guy Who Can Somehow Use Gunpowder(any Fantasy Setting Game), the Young Boy(every game from Pokemon to Zelda). In the course of the movie, the heroes will fight a giant centipede (everything from Abraxis to Zelda), miracously cure all of their wounds with only One Night of Sleep (EVERY game). Actually defeating the final badguy requires the life sacrifice of many characters (Most games), one Ultimate Powerful Bow and Arrow that was forged by good for, well, I don't really know (Zelda), and the ending has the credits roll while a confusingly translated Japanese Pop song plays.

    Now, that may have sounded funky, but you REALLY have to see this. If you aren't convinced already, here's one more incentive: it has Sonny Chiba! If you've never heard of Chiba, you should look into his work. The goriness (and hillarity!) cannot be done with more attention to detail than in a Chiba movie.

    I started watching this movie because of Chiba. I kept watching because of the Big Freaking Centipede. In the end, I felt like I understood the source of every videogame and anime plot since 1975. You should see this movie even if you don't play videogames. At the least, you'll find it entertaining for the action sequences and the occasionally (And suprisingly well translated) bits of dialogue.
  • comment
    • Author: Delan
    Satomi Hakkenden will be understood the moment the viewer realizes that the soulful, classically Japanese score is being played on a cheap Casio synthesizer, and that somehow that is good. Being one of the country's very traditional legends (stolen from China), the writers drew from literary sources to make their movie, and it shows. The movie has heaping doses of melodrama, decapitations, and dead children. It also has characters dressed like a costume shop exploded, giant flying snakes hanging by ropes, a truly terrible 70's power ballad love song, and a plot so stereotypically Japanese it can be considered prototypical.

    None of that is to say that the movie is bad. All of those things add to the ambiance of the movie. It also contains incredible special effects for 1983, some of the moments are surprisingly poignant, and the fight scenes are great. The plot may be telegraphed from a mile away, but it is still entertaining to watch it all unfold. If you are at all a fan of Japanese culture, you have seen this movie before, in one way or another. Yet if this sounds at all appealing to you, you owe it to yourself to see the original. Satomi Hakkenden deserves a larger spot in great camp history.
  • comment
    • Author: TheSuspect
    Although based on a classic Japanese novel, Legend of Eight Samurai owes an awful lot to the work of George Lucas, with plenty of moments inspired by (ie., borrowed from) Hollywood blockbusters Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, with even the occasional nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark; but hey, that's OK, because George owes a lot of his success to Japanese cinema. What goes around comes around, as they say.

    An epic fantasy tale of good versus evil, complete with gorgeous princess, handsome heroes, and a wicked villain in a heavily guarded fortress, this is unashamed popcorn action aimed at an international market. A great cast (including Japanese action legend Sonny Chiba, international star Hiroyuki Sanada, and the extremely cute Hiroko Yakushimaru), spectacular stunts from Chiba's Japan Action Club, flashy special effects, and brisk direction from Kinji Fukusaku ensure that the film is consistently fun throughout, despite the somewhat random nature of the plot and a running time that clocks in at well over two hours. Fukusaku also manages to lend the whole thing a touch of class with his stylish visuals, giving those of an artistic bent something to appreciate amidst the film's many crowd-pleasing battles.

    NB. For what sounds like ideal family fare, there is a touch of surprisingly gruesome imagery and some brief nudity which may deter those looking for something non-offensive to entertain the kiddies. For me, though, a witch tearing her face off, the occasional decapitation, and the sight of a naked woman bathing in blood only added to my overall enjoyment.
  • comment
    • Author: Yahm
    good movie but i suggest watching it and pretending you are an 8 year old. basic plot evil "demons" try to get rid of an entire clan that destroyed them 100 years earlier. they don't kill princess shizu of that clan and seek her out. shizu heads to her uncles clan and runs into several men who want to save her. they collect 8 people who have magic crystals and all go to the demons castle to destroy them. good movie i wont spoil the ending it doesn't take much brain faculties to watch it either.
  • comment
    • Author: Mightdragon
    SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned!

    Much of what I could say about this movie has already been said by other reviewers, with some minor exceptions.

    Story elements -- for example, turning the group of captive women into magic temptresses with poisonous breath -- get introduced and then dropped, or brought back for a few seconds' cameo at best (the poisonous women turn out quite pathetic, achieving only one kill among them). Also, if you've seen this movie and watched the scene where the entire backstory is explained via scroll, you will know what I mean when I say: whatever happened to the dog? The reincarnated princess gets her father's lightsaber, I mean her predecessor's flute, but the dog puts in no reappearance as a dog or as a human (unless I missed something very subtle about either Hiroyuki Sanada's or Sonny Chiba's characters)... and he was, shall we say, rather important to the original princess. And although the tragic female ribbon dancer/swordfighter (far classier than her descendant, O-Ren Ishii) gets relatively little screen time, it's still more than the later additions to the group get in terms of character development or backstory, which is practically none. Chiba doesn't even get one line of clichéd surprise that two of the crystal-holders are a woman and a young boy. I can only conclude that the movie was written and edited under the same sort of chemical influence required to fully enjoy it.

    I also believe that Sanada must have had a clause in his contract requiring his thighs to be on display at all times. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Indeed, in one scene he falls to the ground unconscious, and Chiba slings him over his shoulder and carries him toward the camera. Sanada's butt and thighs occupy the center of shot for a surprisingly long time before the director cuts away. So there are indeed redeeming moments in this movie. (Another is when the group has defeated the giant centipede demon, which had approached them disguised as an old woman, and one of the samurai astutely remarks, "THAT wasn't your mother!") A sidenote: as much as the movie borrows from Lucas, which is quite a lot, he seems to have borrowed back from it for aspects of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The demon matriarch's headgear wouldn't look a bit out of place on Queen Amidala in "The Phantom Menace," and Lucas does the dropped-story-element (midichlorians, anyone?) and underdeveloped-character (wuxia master Ray Park as Darth Maul; the assorted villains -- Jango Fett, Count Dooku, General Grievous; most of the Jedi Council) routines like a master.

    One point for having Sonny Chiba in it (there are other elements in this movie that show up in "Kill Bill," in whose first volume Chiba has a small honorific role). One point for Hiroyuki Sanada's butt. One point for strong female characters. One point for the interesting sociological fact that apparently, evil undead demon clans have no incest taboos. (It is, however, a mystery to me why the matriarch is attracted to her son, who is sort of the medieval Japanese Jame Gumb.) Minus several million for the soundtrack. I found myself devoutly hoping that the writer and singer of those godawful pop ballads would be crushed in the destruction of the castle.
  • comment
    • Author: Pedora
    This is one of many Japanese sword and fantasy films, but in that genre it stands out. This comes as no real surprise since it is directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who is one of the masters of Japanese cinema. But if you are looking for a masterpiece here, you won't find it. There are many flaws. The character development is non-existent and even silly. One character, who had been a bloody killer of women and children, suddenly reforms. His explanation: "I heard a flute and it awoke something inside me." Well, don't let that or any of the many plot holes bother you. It is simply not that kind of movie. And you probably won't notice these flaws anyway, because you will be so wrapped up in the excellent action sequences that you won't care. Fukasaku uses his considerable skills to pull out all the stops on pure entertainment. Aside from the action sequences, the special effects are excellent and the production values are high.

    Fukasaku was known for getting the best from his players and this is no exception. Among the actors, Sonny Chiba is up to his usual antics here, but Fukasaku brings out a certain charm that makes him a plausible romantic lead. Hiroko Yakushimaru plays the female lead. In this type of film, her type of character is usually just a pretty face that other, more interesting characters revolve around. But she takes the role beyond this and is not only beautiful, but charming and exciting. She gives the character a kind of positive energy that makes her character interesting and can't help but make you smile. The other characters also represent themselves well.

    What really makes the film work is the pace. It is quick and pulls carries you through the story so that you don't notice its flaws. And really, do these flaws matter that much? To a purist perhaps, but a purist would miss the obvious good time of watching this film. So just let the film carry you away into that fantasy land that we all need to go to once in a while. It is fun and refreshing. Enjoy - it is one of the best rides like it that you can find.
  • comment
    • Author: Ariseym
    LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI, on its most base level, is every kid's dream movie: it has eight (count 'em!) mystical warriors, immortality, monsters and evil deities, sacrifices and heroic deeds, and a pointless breast or two. Unfortunately, the elements of the film fail to tie together into a good, coherent film.

    The movie deals with a princess destined to destroy some evil undead guys (unfortunately, they're not zombies, which are always B-movie gold). Told through a confusing Chinese manuscript back story, she is apparently the reincarnation of a martyred girl from generations ago. Over the course of 133 long minutes, she is joined by the titled eight warriors (although I think only two of them even come close to being samurai...), including Sonny Chiba as the typical fighter-dude, a huge cave-dweller and his son, a female ninja assassin, and an evil general who sees the light side...or something.

    As earlier mentioned, this movie is one of those martial-arts epics that attempts to cram everything that should be cool into one two-hour feature. This story might work exceedingly well as a video game (Final Fantasy, anyone?) but just as FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN failed to convey a sense of a coherent world, LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI also tends to focus more on (poorly conceived) set pieces and monsters than atmosphere and action. There are a few good moments to be found in the ending storm of the bad-guy fortress, but the sacrifices made and the triumph attained mean nothing to the viewer due to the huge amount of material thrown in their face. My rating: 6/10
  • comment
    • Author: Unde
    Legend of Eight Samurai...aka...Japanese Ripoff of American Blockbusters of late 70s and early 80s.

    The majority of the plot stitched together by the patchwork of the first three Star Wars films.

    So bitterly ironic since Lucas has credited the Japanese classic The Hidden Fortress by the late, great Akira Kurosawa as a heavy influence for his first Star Wars film.

    Open as an evil empire converges at their fortress to solidify their evilness with the heads of the entire royal family. All save for one! A Princess?! They need to find the princess to complete their task!

    And of course, that feisty princess is on her way to meet up with her uncle.

    But runs into a feisty, bratty pretty-boy who wants to be a fighter like the others. As well as her older protector who will unite a band of special warriors to defeat the Empire... Sound familiar?

    This flick is chock-ful-o-Lucas-clichés:

    Darth Vader...err... I mean, the evil queen proclaiming the pretty-boy is her son. NOOOO! I'll never join you!

    The group fighting a serpentine creature in the trash compacto...err... I mean, bowels of the Death Sta...err... I mean, Castle.

    Obi Wan...err... I mean, Sonny Chiba's character constantly being the sage leading the feisty princess... all the while knowing his time is finite.

    There's even rip-offs of the other great Lucas franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark:

    The re-creation of the famous boulder opening. Snakes, why does it always have to be snakes. And the over-abundance of pistols... even though everything else in the film dates it to a time long before pistols were even invented. Speaking of which, you gotta dig the times when they failed to eliminate modern elements from the shots. Like telephone poles.

    Still, campy fun. Thought truly painful at times. Like the love scene with the cheesy early 80s rock ballad score. They keep cutting back and forth between some painful, badly framed love-making shot and one of the eight samurai statues. So you keep counting off each Samurai statue shot, urging the editor to cut to another statue fast in order to end the painful scene.

    And as far as that other review I read that claimed video games ripped THIS movie off?! That is giving this little seen flick far too much credit.
  • comment
    • Author: Rude
    more of an RPG movie with each of 8 samurais as RPG characters in a role playing games. each one has their own story and own ending. the fights are great...story is your typical rpg game...princess seeks out 8 samurai to help her destroy evil people....everything's great. the fights...they are great too. especially the one where this man was fighting off everybody in this patio while white (cherry?)blossoms are falling down. one thing.... special effects... kind of corny...but if you can look past the special effects and you're the type of RPG fanatics...this is the movie for you
  • comment
    • Author: Truthcliff
    Some wonderful pagentry and costumes, but limited actions. This movie has a lot of really great possibilities for some intense character development, but the majority of these threads are cut before the actors have the opportunity to bring out the full potential. The Eight Samurai are closer to being ninja than warriors, some of them not using typical weapons, the young hero fighting with a pair of kama.

    Some intense magic being used. Instead of using the two hours plus to develop characters and help explain some of the magic happenings, things are really dragged out. The last half hour of the film is by far the best, with some good action scenes and a relatively happy ending. Typical of most Japanese films, the majority of the good guys sacrifice themselves for the good of the whole, with some rather surprising aspects.

    The sound dubbing is below average on this one, with some drawn out, semi-romantic scenes with 80's pop music thrown in behind them. Most of the special effects, with the exception of the giant 'millipede' are surprisingly good for the era.
  • comment
    • Author: Nayatol
    SATOMI HAKKENDEN (Literally `Satomi (Clan) Eight Dog (Samurai) Legend') is a silly yet enjoyable romp that is a true guilty pleasure for Japanese Action Movie fans, mixing elements of Fantasy, Romance, Adventure and Traditional Samurai Drama (Chambara).

    Inspired by the massive 106 Volume, 1814 epic Japanese novel `Nanso Satomi Hakkenden,' by Takizawa (Kyokutei) Bakin, SATOMI HAKKENDEN attempts to modernize and reinterpret the legend of the Eight `Dog' Heroes of the Satomi Clan of Awa Province, whose Princess Fume upon her tragic death gives birth to the Hakkenshi (Eight Samurai) whose spirits are reincarnated in human form carrying mystic crystal beads signifying the virtues of Confucianism (Jin-Sympathy, Gi=Duty/Justice, Rei=Proper Form, Chi=Wisdom, Chuu=Loyalty, Shin=Faith, Kou=Filial Piety, and Tei=Brotherly Affection).

    Shizu (Yakushimaru, Hiroko) is a descendent of Princess Fume and is being hunted by the sinister forces of the Hikita Clan, whose Black Magic wielding, Lady Tamazusa (Natsuki, Mari) needs Shizu's blood to give herself eternal beauty (somewhat Snow White-like). Enter the Hakkenshi who attempt to protect Shizu from Tamazusa's minions and her Black Magic spawned threats. During the course of their adventures, Shizu falls in love with one of her protectors, the wild-child Shinbei (Sanada, Hiroyuki) who just so happens to be the bastard son of Lady Tamazusa.

    1980's `Super Producer', Hiroyuki Kadokawa and legendary maverick director Kinji Fukusaku team-up once again to bring together this loud, Special-Effects laden spectacular with mixed results.

    The action is superb, compliments to Chiba, Shinichi (aka J.J./Sonny Chiba), Shiomi, Etsuko (aka Sue Shiomi) and the rest of the Japan Action Club and their unique blend of swordplay and martial arts action.

    Much time is spent on the romance between Shizu and Shinbei. At the time Yakushimaru was the darling of Japanese Cinema, having just come off of her Box Office smash hit `Sailor Fuku Tou Kikanju' (Sailor Dress and Machinegun) and Kadokawa wastes little time exploiting her new found popularity.

    Yet, the story is slow at times and often confusing as a parade of characters march past the screen. Characterization for the Hakkenshi is almost non-existent, save for their stereotypical attributes (the staunch leader, the brooding androgynous samurai, the mysterious warrior princess, the tall and silent muscleman, the token kid and the `bad-guy' turned `good guy').

    SATOMI HAKKENDEN is a pure `popcorn' movie for the teenage set.
  • comment
    • Author: Ynneig
    Swords and sorcery films are one of my preferred genres and a pleasant pass time for me and when I came across this lesser known gem of a movie; imagine my surprise when (for me at least) it ticked most if not all boxes. In fact this is not a S&S movie like say "The sword and the sorcerer" or the two original "Conan" movies but it is an enjoyable (cheesey) rendition of the genre. It wold be better to say that this is a genre of it's own, namely Samurai, magic and princesses. OK, so what did I make of this hokey and laughable highly enjoyable film? a nutshell...I really enjoyed it. Slow to start off but stick with it and it grows on you. Of course we have the well known actor Sony Chiba in this (from "kill Bill" as if you don't know) which is reason alone to see this. There was one song in this that got stuck in my head and I had to know what it was called. Having hit a dead end using Siri on my iPhone to identify the song I headed to the good ol' internet and IMDb where i discovered that the song was written especially for the dubbed version of this movie and not a bonafied standalone song. Nevertheless I managed to get a copy and play it on iTunes now.I would love to know what other people make of this movie and the soundtrack so if you are into sword, sorcery, samurais and light shows (don't ask) then give this a chance. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
  • comment
    • Author: Dranar
    At two hours and ten minutes LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI could do with some serious pruning, especially in the romantic scenes which seem to last forever. Yes, some producer or another saw this action-adventure romp and decided to appeal to the teenage girl audience by throwing in plenty of love scenes which only serve to slow down the pace for us red-blooded males. The worst scene in the film is undoubtedly the love-making in the cave which seems to go on and on and on forever. To make matters worse, in the English dubbed version, a cheesy pop song plays out over the "action", which has scant regard for the subject matter of the film. If you think a similar moment in LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is bad, just wait until you see this.

    Anyway, I digress. LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI is a lengthy, epic-feeling STAR WARS rip-off with a popular fantasy theme. Influences about from George Lucas' aforementioned space opera to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and even CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Director Kinji Fukasaku is the man responsible for MESSAGE FROM SPACE, another STAR WARS rip-off, and here he is dedicated to delivering a straightforward historical romp complete with a colourful palette and some distinguished actors. And unfortunately it's one of those deeply flawed movies which alternates between crashing boredom and ultimate entertainment, a movie where the budget is saved for the finale and the first ninety minutes is really a time waste. In a film where eight "samurais" team up to save a kidnapped princess, it really isn't a good idea to wait until the LAST FIFTH of your movie until the scene where they actually attack. There isn't even any characterisation in the long hours beforehand: the characters just wander around and interact occasionally.

    The film wins points by being imaginative when it comes to the fantasy aspects. There's an undead witch; dissolutions; an evil statue; magic glowing crystals; a huge, giant, rubbery snake – a cool effect inspired by the aforementioned Schwarzenegger flick – and the cheesiest, fakest-looking giant centipede that you'll ever bear witness to. Throw in some gorgeous girls who have poisoned blood and breath and a surprising display of nudity and gore (watch out for the witch bathing naked in blood like Ingrid Pitt in COUNTESS Dracula); numerous decapitations, skin grafts and gory impalements) and you have one heck of a kid's movie that would never get made in the west! As mentioned, the cast is a quality one. Yakushimaru and Sanada are emotive leads even if such emoting is out of place in a movie like this. Sonny Chiba is of course the best thing in the movie, and the scenes where he gets to kick backside are dynamic. The supporting cast are all pretty good, even if the characters are wooden and prove to be little more than attractive scenery waiting to get bumped off at the end of the film. And what an end this film has. The last thirty minutes alone contain some of the most exciting action and destruction I've seen in a long time. It had me cheering on the lead characters. Rated on its own, this ending would deserve the highest score, but sadly the long mind-numbing build-up drags the overall quality down. Still, if you want to see dozens upon dozens of Darth Vader-lookalike bad guy henchmen getting chopped up with swords and picks, a massive set getting destroyed via some nifty SFX and tons of bloodshed and heroics, then the last thirty minutes are for you. This is a colourful and crazy enough film to warrant a look!
  • comment
    • Author: Moralsa
    I love samurai films. Especially crazy ones. Cheesy ones. And "Legend of 8 Samurai" (even though the script used ninjas instead of Samurais) doesn't disappoint on both accounts. However for its long-winded running time this gaudy Japanese 80s (even though it looks older than that) period ninja fantasy hokum just doesn't deliver enough of it. Sometimes fairly ponderous (especially the journey part gathering all the 8 ninjas), but many distractions finds its way in. Like the god-awful, out-of-sync dubbing. The tasty dialogues are outrageously daft, but the dubbing only tops it off. It's funny… especially the out-the-place tones in the voices. One character goes about discussing his regrets, where he killed women and children and for some reason the dubbed voice seems so gleeful despite the sorrow-filled actions. Although there's a wry smile evident. Then we get these retro guitar riffs, electronic beeps and power ballads finding its way in. Talk about painful, namely the corny American induced power ballads. You know, it accompanies the love-making sequences or scenes of utter happiness. To balance out the cheese. We get colourful costumes, plastic armour, hokey sets, important historical picture stories, curses aplenty, blood bathing, hysterical screaming, evil cackling, puffed-up sulking, delicious snake eating, heart-felt flute playing, magical crystals, an demon rock with flickering lights, voices from beyond the grave, a gigantic flying snake and centipede (yep it's a sight to behold), glowing bow and arrow set and excitingly kinetic action set-pieces of martial arts combat. It's very well staged with some atmospheric encounters early on and plenty of scope within its framing, but it doesn't really fire in to full gear until it reaches its unsparingly climatic battle of good vs. evil. The stilted plot is dramatic, but at the same time a complete mess involving tragedy, witchcraft, romance and one's fate in almost capturing a surreal daytime serial vibe to it all. Must have been the music soundtrack. Hey was that a car horn I just heard too? The villains are sinister, exaggeratedly zany and pure comic quality. You know, they just build themselves up (being so evil) for one great fall. The 8 samurais (ah I mean ninjas) had some interesting drawings (albeit stereotypical), but their character arches are never truly expanded on. Disappointing. Instead more time is spent on the two young leads (which starred Hiroyuki Sanada). The performances are okay with Sonny Chiba making an appearance. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku (who would be known for "Battle Royale"), there are some interesting visuals and charming special F/X despite the scratchy low-budget look. Daftly out of sorts, but fun junky nonsense.

    "There's no power on this earth that can destroy us". Wrong!
  • comment
    • Author: Jia
    The film is about a crazy queen and her equally insane son who are trying to wipe out an entire Japanese clan in order to please their evil god. You see, like most evil gods, this one wants the blood of innocents and can also keep these two freaks alive by bathing in blood as well. Nice folks, eh? Anyway, almost the entire clan is wiped out except for a young princess who is aided by eight samurai--though because of lousy translating, often the film calls them "ninja" (they are definitely NOT the same). In the end, it's the standard good versus evil final showdown and the film is filled with explosions, blood, magic and more explosions.

    This movie is obviously NOT one you'll mistake for an Akira Kurosawa flick, as it is loud, silly and far from subtle. I knew I was in trouble when I saw that this was an English-dubbed film and not the original Japanese version. My apprehension increased when the film began, as very tacky American disco music blared on my TV screen. Yecch! As for the rest of the film, while the fight scenes were well done and the movie was entertaining, it was a silly and over-the-top effort filled with giant millipedes, snakes, magic crystals and demons. It's best with a film like this just to turn off your brain and enjoy. If you question what you're seeing or think too much, your brain might just explode!
  • comment
    • Author: Mr Freeman
    This movie is a hilarious, adventure filled bit of silliness. When you're not watching it for the 'plot' or the interaction between the characters, you're laughing your butt off at the tin foil and glitter costumes, Broadway musical face make-up, and amazingly cheesy special effects. The fight scenes aren't the worst I've ever seen, but I kept being distracted by the main character's(Shinbei) Farrah Fawcett locks. His hair is the height of early 80's awful.

    The cardboard and plastic armor sported by the soldiers in the film is a riot. The sets and fx aren't as bad as any Godzilla film, thankfully. And the story becomes engrossing, despite the lame costuming and ridiculous hair-dos. This is a good bit of fluff, well worth a watch once in a while.
  • comment
    • Author: zzzachibis
    This is a movie so bad, it's good. For instance, when the main dude and the princess pork, it shows her from all these unflattering angles, so she looks fat. Plus, the dude has long hair. In addition, really bad English love music blares through. After they finish porking, a flying, obviously inflatable snake flies into the room and steals her. In another scene, two dudes turn into stone after holding up a support for too long. These are only a few examples of the shear volume of camp and crap in this film. Any other stupid or odd thing that could happen DOES. Like, some old lady turns into a giant centipede. It's so friggin awesome. In short, if you manage to get a dubbed copy of this, GO FOR IT.
  • Credited cast:
    Hiroko Yakushimaru Hiroko Yakushimaru - Princess Shizu
    Hiroyuki Sanada Hiroyuki Sanada - Inue Shinbei Masashi
    Shin'ichi Chiba Shin'ichi Chiba - Inuyama Dosetsu Tadatomo (as Sonny Chiba)
    Etsuko Shiomi Etsuko Shiomi - Inusaka Keno Tanetomo (as Etsuko Shihomi)
    Yûki Meguro Yûki Meguro - Hikita Gonnokami Motofuji
    Mari Natsuki Mari Natsuki - Tamazusa
    Nana Okada Nana Okada - Hamaji
    Masaki Kyômoto Masaki Kyômoto - Inuzuka Shino Moritaka
    Kenji Ohba Kenji Ohba - Inukai Genpachi Nobufuchi
    Nagare Hagiwara Nagare Hagiwara - Yonosuke
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Tatsuo Endô Tatsuo Endô - Hikiroku
    Takuya Fukuhara Takuya Fukuhara - Inukawa Sosuke Yoshito
    Seizô Fukumoto Seizô Fukumoto
    Akira Hamada Akira Hamada - Akushiro
    Shunsuke Kariya Shunsuke Kariya - Inuta Kobungo Yasuyori
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