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Tsukigami (AKA: The Haunted Samurai) (DVD) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) DVD Region 2

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Tsukigami (AKA: The Haunted Samurai) (DVD) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Tsumabuki Satoshi stars as a down-on-his-luck samurai in the quirky period comedy The Haunted Samurai. Directed by Yasuo Furuhato (The Firefly) with cinematography from Kimura Daisaku (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles), the film is based on a novel by Asada Jiro, whose When the Last Sword is Drawn, Metro ni Notte, and Failan were also previously adapted for the big screen. Like Kore-eda Hirokazu's Hana, The Haunted Samurai deconstructs the samurai genre and image with a comedic bent, both satirical and silly. Taking a humorously tragic look at the caste system, the film revolves around a samurai who works hard to get ahead, but keeps hitting a wall because of his caste status, not to mention some unfortunate divine intervention.

Low-ranking samurai Hikoshiro Bessho (Tsumabuki Satoshi) is hardworking, educated, and skilled in swordfighting, but as a second son, he gets nothing. He marries into another samurai family, but jealous relatives conspire to have him kicked out of the household. With nowhere to turn, he can only board with his less-than-pleased brother and sister-in-law. Already down in the pits, Hikoshiro encounters a former classmate who has since risen in the ranks, having found success after praying at a certain shrine. A drunken Hikoshiro decides to try his luck at a run-down shrine, and ends up attracting the attentions of the Gods of Poverty (Nishida Toshiyuki), Pestilence (Akai Hidekazu), and Death (Morisako Ei).

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Technical Information

Product Title: Tsukigami (AKA: The Haunted Samurai) (DVD) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) 憑神 (DVD) (通常版) (日本版) 凭神 (DVD) (通常版) (日本版) 憑神 つきがみ (通常版) Tsukigami (AKA: The Haunted Samurai) (DVD) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version)
Artist Name(s): Tsumabuki Satoshi | Nishida Toshiyuki | Kagawa Teruyuki | Eguchi Yosuke | Akai Hidekazu | Sato Ryuta | Suzuki Sawa | Natsuki Mari | Morisako Ei 妻夫木聰 | 西田敏行 | 香川照之 | 江口洋介 | 赤井英和 | 佐藤隆太 | 鈴木砂羽 | 夏木 Mari | 森迫永依 妻夫木聪 | 西田敏行 | 香川照之 | 江口洋介 | 赤井英和 | 佐藤隆太 | 铃木砂羽 | 夏木 Mari | 森迫永依 妻夫木聡 | 西田敏行 | 香川照之 | 江口洋介 | 赤井英和 | 佐藤隆太 | 鈴木砂羽 | 夏木マリ | 森迫永依 Tsumabuki Satoshi | Nishida Toshiyuki | Kagawa Teruyuki | Eguchi Yosuke | Akai Hidekazu | Sato Ryuta | Suzuki Sawa | Natsuki Mari | Morisako Ei
Director: Furuhata Yasuo 降旗康男 降旗康男 降旗康男 Furuhata Yasuo
Release Date: 2007-12-07
Publisher Product Code: DSTD-2744
Language: Japanese
Country of Origin: Japan
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, Greenland and the Middle East (including Egypt) What is it?
Other Information: DVD
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1005020420

Product Information

[アーティスト/ キャスト]
降旗康男 (監督) / 妻夫木聡 / 香川照之 / 浅田次郎 (原作)



製作国 : 日本 (Japan)
公開年 : 2007



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This film has received 3 award nomination(s).
  • Japan Academy Prize 2008
    • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography Nomination, Kimura Daisaku
    • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Recording Nomination
    • Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction Nomination
All Award-Winning Asian Films

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Tsukigami (AKA: The Haunted Samurai) (DVD) (Normal Edition) (Japan Version)"

November 17, 2008

This professional review refers to The Haunted Samurai (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Taiwan Version)
Despite making the most money in Asia, Japanese films have some of the least overseas-friendly films. Some of Japan's biggest blockbusters are based on television dramas that are never shown outside of Japan, and local humor can often be difficult to translate, especially when it's in a period film. Based on the 2005 novel by popular novelist Jiro Asada, The Haunted Samurai is such a film.

In one of his most mature roles yet, the hunky Satoshi Tsumabuki plays Hikoshiro, a low-level, down-on-his-luck samurai in 1867 Edo (now better known as Tokyo). Hikoshiro is unemployed after getting fired from his employer/father-in-law's house, and he gets no respect as the hardworking second son while his employed older brother gets by with his latent laziness. Alos, Hikoshiro's old friend just returned from overseas boasting the newfound success that he supposedly got from praying to the gods at a shrine in a nearby town. After a night of heavy drinking to undo his shame, Hikoshiro happens upon a shrine that appears to have the same name as the one his friend prayed at. Believing that it's the same shrine, he gives a half-hearted prayer for help.

To Hikoshiro's surprise, a god does show up the next day to meet him. Unfortunately, the god happens to be the God of Poverty, and he's very good at doing his job. Within a day, Hikoshiro's family is already beneath a heavy debt that can only be paid off if they sell their family status. Thanks to an old subordinate, Hikoshiro finds out that he can get rid of one god if the curse is moved to another person. However, he soon discovers that while getting rid of one god may be easy, getting rid of three is a little harder than he imagines.

Even though the basic structure of the film - a snowball effect of superstition and accident that can lead to a man's downfall - is fairly universal, Asada and director Yasuo Furuhata's world of samurai, shogun, and retainers is not so easy to understand. This is partly due to Asada's background. Claiming to be the descendent of a samurai who belonged to the Tokugawa shogunate, Asada even felt the need to fill a supernatural comedy with references to the world of samurai that would satisfy anyone who spent hours and hours watching period dramas on Japanese daytime TV. For those who don't understand a retainer's relationship to a shogun or know what a shadow warrior is, they'll still get two-thirds of an amusing supernatural comedy.

Furuhata, with co-writers Toshimi Kokubo and Yasufumi Tsuchiya, come up with a very clear three-act structure with lots of comedic potential - when one god is gone, a worse one comes to bring more devastation, forcing Hikoshiro to find another way out. They also have a fairly likable and sympathetic lead character in Tsumabuki's Hikoshiro, a hardworking loser who, unlike some of the people around him, doesn't really deserve what he gets. Seeing how he fends off the curses and how those around him get their comeuppance is the source of the fun in The Haunted Samurai.

However, the problem is that the film isn't very funny or all that much fun. Much of the humor in the story comes from the plot turns, and they only result in slight chuckles. This may be because of the cultural and language barriers, as the film is clearly aimed for local audiences who know their history (Only the English subtitles provide the exact year the film takes place in). On the other hand, the lack of comedy in the film may also be due to the story itself, which takes a clear thematic shift in the third act. Instead of learning about the dangers of superstition, Hikoshiro instead learns about the honorable duty of a samurai during the waning days of the shogunate. Even though the story follows in line with history (and Asada's own interest), the abrupt shift comes at the price of putting too much history into a film that doesn't exactly need it.

On the other hand, the supporting cast provides some effective comedy. Ryuta Sato puts in an exaggerated-but-fun performance as Hikoshiro's nervous-but-loyal subordinate, while the usually serious Teruyuki Kagawa steals the show as the friendly soba stand owner, though his role makes up only a number of brief scenes and serves very little purpose. Unlike the manic comedic style of recent Japanese cinema, Furuhata's comedy is not out to get big laughs, with much of the humor provoking quiet chuckles instead of riot-like laughter. This matches the traditional Japanese moviegoing experience, where a comedy can draw some of the quietest audiences in the world. This isn't because they don't get the humor, it's because they are so respectful to the film and the people around them that they don't dare to make loud sounds that could disturb the experience. Thinking from this perspective, The Haunted Samurai is the perfect comedy for that traditional crowd because of its subtle but amusing humor and its traditional ideas of honor and duty. However, in an era of comedies ruled by Kankuro Kudo and Miki Kotani, it may also prove to be a bit too subtle and old-fashioned.

By Kevin Ma

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