Legend Of The Devil (Japan 1996)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/5/00

Disappointing. Another poor attempt to recapture the splendor of the samurai film genre. Sakaki Shuranosuke is a wandering ronin with an unorthodox hairdo and a bright purple robe (I wonder what they used for styling gel in those days?). He stumbles into some mess with a kidnapped princess and a special sword, and naturally tries to rescue the beautiful princess. He succeeds, but her ransom (the sword) is stolen by a group of female ninja and the convoluted mystery of the sword starts to unwind. The sword has a mate, and when brought together they will reveal a secret treasure. So Shuranosuke slices and dices his way through ninja, samurai, giants, and magic priests to solve the puzzle with lackluster results. Ho hum. The tone is just all wrong, and even dives into goofy camera mugging once or twice. The second-rate actors fail to bring any life or intensity into the characters and the story seems stale and uninspired. The action scenes, while well executed also tend to lack any real excitement or intensity. And although the film looks nice, its production values are betrayed by the quality of the actors and the tacky electronic score. Of particular note, the actor who plays Shuranosuke is actually pretty good, but his performance bears an uncanny resemblence to Ichikawa Raizo's Nemuri Kyoshiro character from the "Sleepy Eyes Of Death" series. I can only deduce that this characterization was intentional exploitation, and he even mimics Kyoshiro's "Full Moon Cut" technique at one point.