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Yôjirô Takita's ASHURA

Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald

This movie has some seriously arresting imagery: the upside-down floating castle, the castle’s gravity-defying maze-like passageways, the appearing/disappearing bridge to the spirit world, and a cataclysmic fire attack on Edo.

My favorite: the giant golden image of the 3-headed demon queen Ashura as she commands her minions in their quest to defeat her former lover. As portrayed by Rie Miyazawa she employs a cool aggressive stare that mixes well with a wry smile as she contemplates revenge and bloodshed via her army of demons and resurrected warriors.

Her lover is now a kabuki actor in old Edo trying to forget a personal tragedy he experienced in his former life as a demon slayer. His love affair with a mysterious young woman unravels his quiet life as a he realizes she is actually the demon queen bent on earthly conquests. Surprising his associates who are ignorant of his background, he takes up his sword once again to battle the forces of darkness, now embodied by his former lover as the dreaded Ashura.

What follows are fights, speeches, histrionics, ghostly apparitions, and lots of green blood. Acting is uniformly high quality, costumes are sumptuous, swordplay is exciting, and extensive special effects complement the often garish color schemes of old Edo. It’s a fun movie.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D.McDonald

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