Ryuhei Kitamura’s sophomore effort contains two of the greatest scenes in recent action movie-dom: 1) a teenage girl charging an army of 200 – and winning! – and 2) one of the most memorable decapitations of the “oh, wait, I just got nick…hiiissssss” sort. Yes, I know it doesn’t work like that, but dammit: it should.
Based on a popular Manga, Azumi doesn’t quite shake its pulp roots, but this probably stems more from Kitamura’s direction than the story itself. The kinetic overload of Versus is pared down as the plot takes on a bigger scope, but a few unfortunate directorial decisions throw off the pace every now and then. To wit: a random fight scene takes on Crouching Tiger-type wire-work and weird sound effects, while another throws in a Tex Avery-like anomaly in an otherwise straight battle scene; both scenes are jarring, but this is a minor complaint.
The lead is pretty dull, I have to admit. I gather she’s a pop star in her native Japan, but she’s not terribly interesting. Then again, it’s not like you have to wait very long for a fight scene to move things along, so who’s complaining?
- Director: Ruyhei Kitamura
- Cast: Aya Ueto, Kenji Kohashi, Hiroki Narimiya, Takatoshi Kaneko