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Japan, 1998 (MIFF 1999, Regional Features)

Director: Hiroyuki Nakano

The classic Samurai film has been drastically updated in this dazzling feature debut by Hiroyuki Nakano. An official selection at Sundance and Montreal Film Festivals, Samurai Fiction has taken the genre and added a daring and dynamic new flair. A masterful sense of humour, advanced special effects, rapid fire editing and a rock & roll soundtrack launch this wild yarn into the stratosphere.

Set in centuries past, when warlords stalked the earth and ruthless mercenary swordsmen held power, the film follows the epic exploits of Heishiro Inukai and his buddies Suzuki and Kurosawa (no points for spotting the in-jokes). A treasured ceremonial sword is stolen from their clan by Kazamatsuri, a giant of a man who is an expert with the blade. Naive and unskilled, but eager to prove their manhood, the trio set off in pursuit.

Boiling over with style and panache, Samurai Fiction is photographed in exquisite black and white with perfectly placed bursts of colour throughout. Battle scenes and duels are staged in a manner that would have Jet Li and Jackie Chan drooling in admiration. Nakano's modern masterpiece honours the originals from which it draws inspiration, while expanding the canon with his electrifying approach.

After Heishiro and his chums are soundly trounced at their very first encounter with trouble, they are forced to regroup and rethink their strategy. Heishiro seeks the counsel and training of Hanbei, a pacifist Samurai who is reluctant to be once again drawn into petty feuding. Hanbei's beautiful daughter reshapes the hot-headed Heishiro's attitude and gives him reason to continue his quest. Magnificent entertainment that will put a crease in your Kimono.

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