Just watched a screener of Azumi, a kick-butt Samurai flick

One of the great thing about being press at the Sundance film festival is that some enlightened PR folks will actually give you a screener (a videotape) of their film. After we got off the slopes and to of the hot tub yesterday we popped in the screener for Azumi. It’s a non-stop, action-packed tribute to Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and the Seven Samurai. I’ll be writing up a review shortly, for now here is a look at what the folks at Sundance thought:

Boasting some of the most impressive swordplay in the history of samurai epics, AZUMI is a visceral masterpiece of violent style and powerful substance. This modern-day classic is driven by the fierce performance of Aya Ueto as Azumi, a beautiful young girl with a ruthless mission to kill. Orphaned during the war-torn Tokugawa Shogun era in Japan, Azumi is raised by Ji, who has been ordered to cultivate assassins to eliminate the bloodthirsty warlords. Burdened by the cruel orders to kill friends and enemies alike, Azumi begins to question her fate, but she forges ahead, unaware of the terrible bloodshed that awaits.Based on a popular comic book, AZUMI interweaves romance, political history, and psychological observation into an adrenaline-fueled triumph of filmmaking. Director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Alive) is becoming a legend in his own time with his distinct style that is as elegant as it is graphically violent. Ueto is an epiphany as Azumi, one of the toughest female heroes in cinema history. Also look for her enemy in the white robe, one of the most enjoyable characters I’ve seen in a long time. Jam packed with action throughout, the film’s final battle scene is, at once, ethereal and precisely calculated to create an epic climax that will rock your world. Trevor Groth

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