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Baian, a franchise...? [Aug. 5th, 2007|05:39 am]
Samurai Fiction

[Current Mood |tiredtired]

I picked up the Baian boxed set at Bet Buy this past week. It's the first time I've actually seen them in at my local store and.. yep, sure enough they were $15 like I had heard.

I haven't had a chance to watch it all yet, in fact.. I've only been able to catch the first episode so far but it's not too shabby. A bit heavy on the third person narration though. Anyway.. the whole set clocks in at a hefty 440 minutes, but seems to be rather bare boned in regards to features and extras. The first disk has a small trailer gallery (including a trailer for Samurai Fiction that's oddly subtitle free) annd.. that's it. Nothing else.

I gotta say though, I've been having a hell of time digging up info on the series. There's next to nothing about it online, and most of the google results are just reviews or listing of the Media Blasters release of the series. There's no wikipedia entry or IMDB entry for this series, but oddly enough there are listings for two other Baian movies, but the entires are next to empty.

I did stumble across one review (Twitch: Baian the Assassin vol. 1) of the first DVD though and in the replies someone mentions that Baian's a franchise that's on the scale of Zatoichi, with multiple TV series and movies. Apparently this 7 episode set is the only turn at the role that Watanabe had and Baian was portrayed by various actors throughout the years. The reply also mentioned that the entire franchise is based upon a series of short stories by Shotaro Ikenami. Supposedly several of the books are available in the US, but Amazon shows that none of them are currently in print. On the upside, they list at least three books (Master Assassin: Tales of Murder from the Shogun's City, Bridge of Darkness: The Return of the Master Assassin, and Ninja Justice: Six Tales of Murder and Revenge) which apparently all have Baian stories in them.

It's just.. really obnoxious. All these hints that there's a whole lot of Baian stuff out there, but nothing turns up. I'm really surprised at the lack of Wiki and IMDB entries. I mean, there's a wiki for everything, but nothing for Baian..? Straaaaange. I guess we should just be happy that we're getting a glimpse at the franchise then.

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She-chi? [Jun. 15th, 2007|04:35 am]
Samurai Fiction


That's a play on words, She-Ichi..Shechi. Anyway.

'Zatoichi' Gets Serious Makeover

The blind swordsman Zatoichi is becoming the blind swordswoman, according to a report from Sanspo via Tokyograph. A feature film titled ICHI is in the works, starring Haruka Ayase in her debut acting role, and helmed by Fumihiko Sori, who is the director of Ping Pong and the upcoming CGI thriller, Vexille.

I can barely make sense out of that buuut.. a new movie called Ichi starring a Haruka Ayase...? I think..? Edit: Found a more readable article, hurray!

And what's this I hear of Miike doing a Zatoichi stage play..?

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Baian! [May. 3rd, 2007|02:47 am]
Samurai Fiction


I had never heard of this until adgy mentioned on it on his own LJ. Figured I'd mention it here for those interested.

Here there be a cover image!Collapse )

According to Amazon it's "A TV series about a doctor during the Edo period who uses his Acupuncturist skills to both cure and kill. Dr. Baian is essentially a good man who accepts the money he receives for killing the bad so that he can heal the sick who can’t afford it." Starring none other than Ken Watanabe!

Also according to Adgy.. it's only $15 at Best Buy.

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Shinobi Quadrilogy? [Mar. 31st, 2007|09:49 pm]
Samurai Fiction


I was at Best Buy recently and stumbled upon a two disk DVD set calld Shinobi: The Complete Collection. There was a bit on the back, something about two ninjas trapped by birth on the lowest rung of the.. ninja totem poll I guess, or something like that. Anyway.. I basically don't know anything else about the series and I was wondering if anyone here knew about it? I think it stars someone from Versus and it's directed by Kenji Tanigaki, who was involved with the Princess Blade movie.

There's really next to no information about the movies online. Even the ADV site doesn't list much except for the normal back of the box stuff. Nothing on IMDB, and the only two Amazon reviews for it consist of people bitching because they thought it had something to do with live action Basilisk adaption soo.. yeah, anyone?

If it helps at all, here's a link to the ADV catalogue section for the films, Shinobi DVD's.

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Few news bits.. [Jan. 23rd, 2007|03:00 am]
Samurai Fiction


This tuesday sees the release of Crtierion's new editions of Yojimbo and Sanjuro. They'll be available individually or as a set.

In addition to this, Criterion's starting a sub label to replace HVE. It's called Eclipse and will release films in cheap, barebones editions. They released several samurai/chambara films through HVE in the past, most notably some of the early Zatoichi series. They're Eclipse off with Ingmar Bergman films though, so we might have to wait a little while. For a better idea of what the sub-label will be doing, here's their mission statement and a link to the Criterion Blog entry (On Five: Mission Accomplished (12/14/06)) where it was announced..

"Eclipse presents a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed films in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer."

Thanks to adgy for those tidbits.

Speaking of Criterion, I have no idea when this went up but they currently have an essay up at their site called, The Eighth Samurai: Tatsuya Nakadai by Chuck Stephens. It covers the span of Tatsuya Nakadai's career, who played the gun totting villian from Yojimbo, among other notable roles. or a dozen other roles. Might be worth a looksee.

Also, you might want to keep an eye on your local arthouse/indie theatre as Shinobi is making the rounds in the US. It's the live action adaption of Basilisk which is in turn an anime/manga adaption of Futaro Yamada's novel, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls. The two disk DVD of Shinobi is just around the corner as well, should be out Feb. 6th.

Oh, also.. Basilisk is currently running on IFC. 11:30 PM EST on Fridays.

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Greetings [Dec. 18th, 2006|10:44 pm]
Samurai Fiction

Hey, my name is Rory, just joined and wanted to say hello. I was raised on samurai movies, primarily Akira Kurosawa's films and the Zatoichi series. As such my two favorites are "Sanjuro" and Zatoichi's Vengence. I recently saw "Hidden Blade" in theatres and highly recommend it, probably one of the best modern Samurai movies I've seen in a while. However, I just finished watching "When the Last Sword is Drawn" and would recommend skipping it if you're going to pay to see it. Currently, I have Samurai Assassin sitting in my dvd player waiting to be watched. If anyone has any recommendations on films, old or new, I'd love to hear them.
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New Criterion Editions for Yojimbo/Sanjuro [Nov. 13th, 2006|04:25 am]
Samurai Fiction

[Current Mood |hungryhungry]

There's finally some news about the new editions of Yojimbo and Sanjuro, well, new to me anyway and since no one else posted it.

Anyway. They're both set for a January '07 release and will be available together in a two pack or individually. New extras for each include a commentary track for each and "making of" features. More info can be found in the links below.

The Criterion Collection: Yojimbo

The Criterion Collection: Sanjuro

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Basilisk, etc. [Oct. 7th, 2006|07:55 am]
Samurai Fiction

[Current Mood |sleepysleepy]
[Current Music |"Kefka's Theme (GF Version)" by Nobuo Uematsu]

Earlier tonight the Basilisk anime (dubbed) debuted on IFC. I've got to say, it was probably the fatest 30 minutes I've seen in a long time.

For those wondering, Basilisk is a fictional story about a feud between two ninja clans, the Kouga and the Iga, set around 1610. There had been a truce between the two clans for years, but the truce ends as they're called upon to do battle to decide which son of Tokugawa Hidetada will succeed him as Shogun. It's much more over the top and fantastical than most of the stuff discussed here, think more along the lines of Ninja Scroll or Rurouni Kenshin and less Yojimbo or Lone Wolf and Cub. It also features cameos from various historical personages, such as Tokugawa Ieyasu, (a) Hattori Hanzo and Yagyu Munenori.

It'll be replaying a few more times throughout today, including 9AM EST and around 2PM EST. New episodes every Friday at 11PM EST throughout Oct, then it apparently goes on hiatus until 2007. They're calling this a "preview" of the series.

Also, I've been poking around trying to find a descent background for the community but haven't really come up with anything that's lit me on fire. Anyone have any suggestions or ideas?

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Some more "Seven Samurai" reissue news [Sep. 22nd, 2006|03:25 pm]
Samurai Fiction

[Current Mood |optimisticoptimistic]

An article from CNN.com about the upcoming re-issue of "Seven Samurai", going into some of the details of the actual restoration process. Thought it was interesting.


Can't wait to get my hands on this.
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Seven Samurai: 3 Disk Edition [Aug. 29th, 2006|03:23 am]
Samurai Fiction


We're a mere week away from the Criterion rerelease of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, Seven Samurai, in the spiffy new three disk edition. Thankfully there's an advanced review up going over the various new special features, packaging, transfer and more up at DVD Talk. Here's a little snippit, the full review can be found here.

Seen above, the 1.33:1 menus for this release are rather dark but easy to navigate. This 207-minute film has been divided into 29 chapters over the first two discs, while no obvious layer changes were seen during playback. This three-disc set is housed in a handsome matte-finish digipack case (with an outer slipcover) and includes a thick booklet with essays by Kenneth Turan, Peter Cowie, Philip Kemp, Peggy Chiao, Alain Silver and DVD Talk's own Stuart Galbraith IV. Also of note are tributes by Arthur Penn and Sidney Lumet, as well as an autobiographical piece from the late Toshiro Mifune.

Now, you're probably wondering why I picked that particular paragraph, well.. I'll tell you why. "This 207-minute film has been divided into 29 chapters over the first two discs.." That's why. Maybe I'm just a lazy son of a bitch, but I absolutely hate, hate, hate having to change disks in the middle of a viewing. Frankly though, from the sound of things, that'll be my only complaint with this new edition. It sounds fantastic and packed to the gills with nifty extras. In fact, they even cleaned up the film print further than they did with their earlier 1998 single disk edition.

Anyway, it's a pretty good review full of information on the extras, presentation, packaging, etc. and even of the movie itself. It even includes screen shots of the new edition and the earlier edition for comparison purposes. So if you were on the fence about buying this, then this review should definately help you make up your mind.

Go give a it looksee.

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