Monday, January 9, 2012
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura
Atsushi Sakurai - Mysterious Man
Takehiro Katayama - Soldier
Toshiyuki Kitami - Doctor
A war rages on, its end unknown, a group of soldiers bring in one of their own to a field hospital, wounded by a large, vicious, bite-like wound. Suddenly, an enigmatic man appears and starts to tell them the legend of the Lance Of Longinus.
As I mentioned earlier this month in a review, Ryuhei Kitamura is one of the fathers of the modern Japan Gore films thanks to his film Versus. When I find a director I like I try to see everything by him, or her, if possible, though sometimes it's easier said than done. Kitamura was one of those directors who knows how to handle the aspects of over-the-top silliness without sacrificing the dramatic punch of a film which is something a lot of the newer Japanese gore directors haven't gotten a hold of yet. So when I found out about Kitamura's Longinus I just had to track it down. And now, here we are with my review of it.
Kitamura just has a feel that translates onto the screen of how to handle limited space yet at the same time how to make the most of it. It's also his use of camera angles that help expand the universe we are seeing. Even though he's not the best action director, one thing he does well is keep the camera steady on the action where everything is on full view. Another thing he does reasonable well is he tries to keep most performances grounded in reality as much as possible even when the story goes into unrealistic territory. It's this grasp of direction that helps keep the viewer attached to the screen. And as with most of Kitamura's films he doesn't shy from using gore, but doesn't go over the top where the entire cast is covered in red like so many of the more recent horror directors from Japan.
While most of the acting in Longinus is decent enough some stand out more than others. Some are just average such as Atushi Sakurai as the Mysterious Man. This was Sakurai's first role and despite that he does a adequate job though he could have shown just a bit more emotion. Hedio Sakaki is still great as a bad guy. Sakaki knows that to be menacing he doesn't need to act crazy or talk as if he owns the world. He understands that by talking softly as well as with authority can be much more alarming. And in Sakaki's role in this he carries a lot more weight thanks to his acting.
Even though the film is only 40 minutes long, it feels so full and has no real slow parts in it. Even the scenes of everyone standing around questioning the Mysterious Man, has a sense of urgency to them. The story is so concise and tight that it doesn't seem like anything is missing, except for the background of the war that is going on. I'm sure that if the running time was longer for the film, the full story of the war would have also been explained as from what they tell of it in the film it seemed like the war has been going on for years on end. Also at the beginning of the film when they were burning the Doctor's body you could tell they were in a city, yet it seemed like the city was dead or evacuated. The other thing that could have been done better with the film, apart from a few minor gripes, is if it had a longer run time, as in if it was full movie.
The rupturing of the Commander's crown.
In the ashes of war, death and violence are everywhere. They have no reason to hide themselves anymore.
The film was released in 2004 in Japan.
The film was never officially released in the US.
Director Ryuhei Kitamura was offered the job directing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, but turned it down, citing a poor script.