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Review - Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1

I’ll give Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1 (also known as Crazy Samurai Musashi) a little bit of credit for its ambition; after all, it takes a lot of guts to attempt to capture an entire battle sequence in a single, unbroken, 77-minute shot (or a reasonable simulation thereof, anyway; I spied multiple opportunities for “invisible edits” in the “continuous take”). Unfortunately, director Yuji Shimomura’s creative vision greatly exceeds both his resources and his talent; to put it bluntly, the action simply lacks enough variety to sustain the gimmick. Tak Sakaguchi, who plays the eponymous bloodthirsty ronin, is a legitimately skilled martial artist; when it comes to swordplay, however, he only has three basic techniques in his arsenal:

  1. A parry, followed by a swift chop to his opponent’s cranium.

  2. A feint, followed by a strike to the ankle.

  3. A slice across the abdomen, usually to counter a charge.

Because he repeats these moves ad nauseam, the fight choreography quickly becomes dull and monotonous; after about ten minutes, you’ll have experienced absolutely everything that the movie has to offer. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the costumes, camerawork, and CGI gore effects look so irredeemably cheap. I don’t demand Hollywood-level production values from the notoriously underfunded Japanese film industry; I’m just saying that a clever, innovative craftsman might have been able to successfully circumvent the obviously limited budget. As it stands, though, Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1 falls far short of its promising premise; you’d have more fun watching your eight-year-old nephew try to play Ghost of Tsushima for the first time.

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