HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Hidden Fortress - The Last Princess A rare rollicking remake
Year: 2008
Director: Shinji Higuchi
Stars: Jun Matsumoto, Masami Nagasawa, Hiroshi Abe, Daisuke Miyagawa, Kippei Shiina, Arata Furuta, Takaya Kamikawa, Kreva, Jun Kunimura, Manami Kurose, Masahiro Komoto, Katsuhisa Namase, Masahiro Takashima
Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Romance, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: After the righteous kingdom of Akizuki falls to its evil neighbour Yamana, self-serving peasants Takezo (Jun Matsumoto) and Shinpachi (Daisuke Miyagawa) escape the slave mines run by the invaders and uncover a fortune in gold. They also run right into Rokurota (Hiroshi Abe), a rugged samurai protecting a young archer who is really Princess Yuki (Masami Nagasawa), the only surviving member of the Akizuki throne. It turns out the gold belongs to the Akizuki clan and intended to rebuild their kingdom in a new land. Rokurota tricks Takezo and Shinpachi into helping him escort both the gold and Princess Yuki to the neighbouring kingdom of Hayakawa, but their perilous, eye-opening journey leads them into enemy territory and a hidden fortress.

Having scored a hit with Japan Sinks (2006), an effects-heavy remake of the landmark science fiction disaster film The Submersion of Japan (1973), special effects designer-turned-director Shinji Higuchi followed with this audacious remake of The Hidden Fortress (1958), an even more venerated chanbara film classic from master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Higuchi began his career in anime. Working as part of the innovative Studio Gainax, he designed creatures and occasionally co-directed such genre highpoints as Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995), but really made his name in live action as the special effects director on Shusuke Kaneko's groundbreaking Gamera trilogy (1995-1999). Unlike most special effects men however, Higuchi also has a solid background in straight dramatic movies which explains why, against the odds, Hidden Fortress - The Last Princess is a surprisingly substantial remake.

Higuchi practices a more frenetic style of filmmaking although it is worth remembering that, in Japan, Kurosawa's style was itself once derided as overly hyperkinetic in his day. He adds bigger explosions, makes the swordfights bloodier (though not excessively so), and casts the characters with younger and better looking actors, but remarkably retains all the dramatic weight and attention to character detail present in the original. More importantly, Higuchi stays true to Kurosawa's humanist ideals, deftly conveyed through Princess Yuki's growing empathy with the suffering of her subjects. As Takezo (who himself grows less mercenary as the story progresses) shows Yuki more of the world, she gradually realises she is "beholden to many." The growing friendship and respect between the mismatched foursome is the film's most endearing aspect and the exceptional performances, its strongest asset.

Masami Nagasawa, a popular and acclaimed actress in Japan, was widely praised for eclipsing original actress Misa Uehara with her nuanced and sensitive turn. Meanwhile Hiroshi Abe faces the impossible task of living up to the legacy of the great ToshirĂ´ Mifune. A charismatic and likeable actor, Abe may not eclipse his predecessor in the popular consciousness but makes a fair go of it. Interestingly though, this version downplays the Rokurota/Yuki relationship and tweaks the plot to add a crowd-pleasing, though unlikely, cross-class romance between peasant Takezo (winningly played by Jun Matsumoto) and princess, leaving the latter torn between love and duty. This actually adds a welcome new dimension to proceedings, underlining the theme that it is the peasants who eventually turn the tide against the invaders, repaying Yuki's faith in them.

If mainstream viewers know only one thing about the original Hidden Fortress it is that it was the film that inspired Star Wars (1977). As a sci-fi otaku himself, Higuchi is certainly aware of this legacy. He peppers the film with an array of sly in-joke references to its space opera cousin: e.g. black-masked villain Lord Takayama makes an entrance almost identical to that of Darth Vader; Takezo and Yuki swing across a chasm exactly like Luke and Leia; and a huge mountain explodes like the Death Star. The film foremost stays true to the spirit of Kurosawa as a rollicking action-adventure yarn, by turns witty, suspenseful, exciting and profound.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3873 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: