If you’re looking for some quick action packed reading this weekend, be sure to pick up my newest novel “Orphan Sword.” It took me two years to properly develop, and write, and it’s the first in what I will hope to turn in to a series. It was originally conceived as a web comic book and was turned in to a novella, changed quite drastically.
“When enigmatic young homeless drifter Noah Grey arrives in Centurion City, instead of finding the answers about his past involving being orphaned at a young age, that he so desperately wants, he finds a sinister presence is kidnapping the homeless in the shadows. When his friend Lucinda becomes a victim of the kidnappings, Noah is forced to use the martial arts and lightning quick sword skills he honed throughout his life to bring her tormentors to justice.”
“Orphan Sword” is an action thriller that is heavily influenced by fiims “Zatoichi,” and “The Man with No Name” series, comic books like “Daredevil” and “Shang-Chi,” and a plethora of other movies and TV series I love. I hope you have a good time reading it, and of course, all money for sales goes toward my goal of buying that purple monkey dishwasher.
Scream Factory offers movie fans a double feature on Blu-Ray with the theme of Asian culture driving the plots for both films. For folks that love Asian films, these two films offer up a helping of Asian genre entertainment with slight twists to them. The first feature is 1982’s “The House Where Evil Dwells,” a supernatural thriller that is basically “Amityville Horror” with a Japanese twist. It’s also just as goofy as the former ghost film. The Fletchers have migrated from the US to Japan in hopes of taking a long needed vacation. Writer Ted is intent on finishing his novel and is anxious to relax. The trio along with Ted’s friend Alex ends up at a small house in the woods of Kyoto where they’re told by Alex’s friend that the house’s rent is cheap due to suspected ghosts.
The only ways to watch “Samurai Cop 2” is with a stern tongue in cheek, or on the basis that you’re a hardcore fan of the original schlock classic. Though a few of the original cast members have come and gone, director Gregory Hatanaka does his best to channel the nineties vibe that the original film was oozing with. Despite taking place in modern times, “Samurai Cop 2” is still very much a nineties action film with the tough sergeant, obligatory sex scenes, Joe Marshall’s long hair, and ninjas galore. There are even ninjas dressed in business suits for some reason.
It’s mostly known as “Ghost Warrior,” but I think I prefer the alternate title “Swordkill.” While “Ghost Warrior” is given an insightful and meaningful definition during the narrative, “Swordkill” just makes the movie sound cheap and silly. I’d love to know who thought the title “Swordkill” was a proper summary of what is a dramatic fish out of water film. J. Larry Carroll’s “Ghost Warrior” is a surprisingly straight faced tale of a warrior placed out of his time, who finds that living in mid eighties Los Angeles kind of sucks. The movie is admittedly thin on narrative, but works for the most part as a series of unfortunate events Yoshimitsu experiences. Life sure does suck for the master samurai.
I guess you can refer to “Ichi” as part of the official Zatoichi canon since the story of Ichi is one the reflects the effect Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman had on the people of Japan during his travels. Though not a remake or a reboot of the Zatoichi series, “Ichi” is an unofficial spin off that takes from the film series and creates its own branch off of an epic story about a beautiful young Goze who is taking a journey to find her savior before finally lying down to die. Haruka Ayase is incredibly beautiful and fierce as the Goze Ichi who spends most of her life wandering around from village to village trying to survive one more day while on a search for something in her life that’s kept her motivated to fight ever since she was a child.
Even though “Azumi” was clearly adapted from a quite visual fantasy comic book, that doesn’t mean it lacks any of the emotion or complexities it attempts to inject within its epic scale. “Azumi” is quite possibly one of the most visually amazing samurai epics I’ve ever seen. From sweeping landscapes, to rather fantastic battle sequences, Kitamura’s film is a pure gem to watch, and the long run time makes it all the more rewarding experience, because it will be difficult to turn away from and watch end. Filled with colorful characters, memorable villains (Saru is my favorite: played well by Minoru Matsumoto), and a wonderful heroine, “Azumi” is the tale of a young girl discovered by the side of her mother’s body. Taken in by a sympathetic wanderer and his three sons, she grows to be a powerful samurai warrior in a dojo led by her master.
This is Tarantino’s fourth film after a self imposed hiatus in filmmaking. Originally set to be one whole film, the studios made him split his long story into two films, possibly for franchising opportunities, but who knows? I watched “Kill Bill” with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a child looking onto his first action film, and Tarantino’s first attempt at the action genre, and I was stunned. The “Kill Bill” franchise has become a hit, commercially, critically, and with Tarantino’s fiercely devoted fan base, who have stuck by the prolific director. Tarantino manages to set yet another precedent with “Kill Bill” which is simply a brilliant movie. I admit, I’m not a fan of Tarantino’s, he makes brilliant work and “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” are excellent, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan. “Kill Bill Vol. 1” has me re-considering my thoughts, though.
This is the same old revenge flick we’ve seen in every Japanese martial arts film, and western, and Tarantino knows that, and that’s his mission, to make a film of his very own, his very own revenge flick paying tribute to his favorite films, his very own film that resembles a Japanese exploitation saga right down to the theme music, which is beautiful from funkadelic soul, to Japanese pop, to the theme song of “The Green Hornet” that really had me high. This movie is not only a thrill to watch but is also a good game you can play called “spot the reference”. There are dozens of movie references here, and hell, it could make a good drinking game. For every movie reference you spot you take a shot.
This elegant love letter to the samurai and to the old world Japanese culture takes place in the late 1800’s, the civil war era, an ex-confederate soldier Captain Nathan Algren, a drunken has been is tortured by his past after being forced to slaughter an Indian village during Custer’s last stand is now a has been who advertises guns for the Winchester company until he’s approached by friend Zebulon Grant played very poignantly by Billy Connolly who makes an offer to Algren to re-claim his respect as a soldier and take a job from the Japanese government to modernize their army to fight against the rebels, an army of Samurai’s, a dying breed from the old world, who are being led by a mysterious leader known as Katsumoto.