- Director : Yuji Shimomura
- Actors : Kento Yamazaki, Yousuke Saito, Ben Hiura, Fuka Hara, Tak Sakaguchi
- Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
- MPAA rating : NR (Not Rated)
- Media Format : Dolby, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 32 minutes
- Release date : March 2, 2021
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Japanese (DTS 5.1)
- Studio : Well Go Usa
Gimmicks can be great for marketing a film, and often terrible for the actual experience of watching the movie. Crazy Samurai 400 vs. 1 (alternatively titled Crazy Samurai Musashi) features a 77-minute long-take action sequence at the center of the narrative, which sounds far more impressive than it is enjoyable to actually watch. While one may marvel at the technical planning and execution needed to complete this sequence, it is also undeniably repetitive and often visually dull. The emphasis on action within this sequence also means that plot and character development suffer as well.
The film follows legendary samurai, Miyamoto Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi), an actual historical figure noted for being undefeated in battle. Musashi was also the subject of director Hiroshi Inagaki’s classic samurai series (known as Samurai Trilogy) starring Toshiro Mifune, and three films were dedicated to his story. Crazy Samurai dedicates the entire film to one battle, which doesn’t provide nearly the same depth of insight into the man that was Musashi. It does provide endless opportunities to see him in action, but the brief scene at the end of the movie which is shot with traditional editing and multiple shots for coverage is so much more exciting that it left me wondering about a film without the gimmick.
There are a lot of things that must be sacrificed in order to accomplish the single take, and on some ways it ties the film to realism. We don’t get a character that seems superhuman in his ability to fight without tiring, because the actual actor gets exhausted and must rest during the 77-miniutes of battle. Because of this, there are pauses in the action, but not for anything useful like plot or character development. Usually it is just an opportunity for the actor to rest and find hidden weapons around the set, as well as taking a water break.
Additionally, there is little room for use of special effects within the carefully choreographed sequence, so the deaths are not very graphic. Worse yet, they become quite boring. Many of the opponents are taken out with a simple blow to the head, before staggering off screen. Others seem to just run at him with their sword above their head, easily sliced bloodlessly across the stomach before falling. Even if every moment was great, it would get old after 77 minutes.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 0/10
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