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Japan, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Electric Angels - The Films of Ishii Sogo)

Director: Ishii Sogo

In this spectacular adventure, Ishii Sogo has married the kinetic energy of Akira Kurosawa's great samurai pictures with a uniquely deranged brand of Buddhist spirituality. Gojoe liberally employs the latest computer FX technology to increase the wonder and beauty of its awe-in spiring images.

The setting is 12th century Japan, a time of social disintegration, as the Genji and Heike clans engage in a brutal civil war Outside Kyoto, the imperial capital, at the Gojoe bridge, a sentry is beheaded by an invisible demon. Comets tear across the sky, bleak omens manifest themselves, and an ancient seer predicts great turbulence between the forces of darkness and light-catastrophe for the empire.

Benkei is a formidable warrior who long ago gave up violence in order to pursue religion. He is forced out of retirement and must heed the call of a portentous inscription that has miraculously appeared on his chest, indicating that he alone must do battle with the evil deity.

Traditional Japanese mythology collides with Ishii s outrageous colour, energy, frenetic pace and apocalyptic vision. Mesmerising performances all 'round by the superior cast, with a special mention for Ryu Daisuke (from Kurosawa's Ran) as the fierce Benkai.

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