that Quentin Tarantino's bloody revenge epic Kill Bill has
established itself as a critical and commercial success, much
attention has been turned to the actor who arguably played
the most pivotal role in the film - Sonny Chiba. Yes, his
turn as Hattori Hanzo has cemented him in the hearts and minds
of many and has virutally guaranteed him a seat on the only
spaceship to escape earth if it ever explodes.
for those millions who worship the very ground he so much
as glances at, little is known about his past before his work
for Tarantino. Is he really a swordsmith? Does he have a lazy
employee who cares only for his soap operas? I personally
found myself asking these very questions, and my reaction
was that of great surprise and delight when I found an exceptionally-priced
DVD two-pack featuring an earlier film of his, entitled Legend
of Eight Samurai.
article shall attempt to give an accurate and detailed report
on the movie, and who knows? The reader may even discover
the true meaning of friendship along the way. Additionally,
it should be known that the first two paragraphs about Sonny
Chiba are bunk, and even though he's apparently in this movie,
I'm actually not sure where. Sorry!
Titles. Not even a little evil.
movie opens with a title sequence that is set to a completely
rocking song and shown against the backdrop of that background
behind the main title, only zoomed in at random. Sadly, that
awesome song ends just when it's getting really good,
but there you are.
there we are taken to the Castle Gloomy (it isn't really named,
so I thought I would) where it is revealed that the Evil People
have collected all the heads of the Satomi clan except for
that most important one, that of the princess. The Evil People,
one of whom is named Motofuji, but it isn't like either of
us can remember that so I'll just call him Son #1, take the
blood they've collected and offer it to a huge sculpture thing
in a nearby cave. This is evidently the Eternal Sprit, and
Evil Lady (that's Son #1's mom) says that they'll have the
princess soon. Smells like a fiercely thickening plot!
Evil Lady. Entirely evil.
the Princess, a fake-Princess and some elderly man are hanging
out in a shack in the woods, hiding. He offers her food that
she doesn't want (rightfully so - it looks awful) and then
they set out on foot to the neighboring kingdom for help.
Unfortunately, they are run down by the Bad People's Soldiers
in the Incredibly Blue Mountains - the old man is slain, and
the fake-Princess is captured, with the real one off to the
side somewheres swearing revenge.
drag fake-Princess back to the cave where they outline their
plan to continue being evil by sacrificing her. They make
vague threats and start cutting her face, because apparently
Son #1 needed reconstructive surgery after having been caught
in a fire set to their castle many years ago, and he just
never lost the taste for cutting up chicks. It is discovered
that they do not have the real princess and much anger ensues
while she is unfortunately slain as well.
Son #1. Kind of evil, I guess.
to a completely different scene in a forest as some dude rides
a horse - and a pretty sweet guitar riff at the same
time. His name is Shinbei, and he barrells into Green Village
(looking at my notes, I can't tell if that's the name or if
I made it up) where the villagers mock him and he discovers
his father is dead. He goes to the grave and cries for awhile
until he spots the real Princess in the nearby woods. He corners
her in a hut but for some reason completely fails to realize
that she is a female, and he tells her to leave. As she walks
away, though, the suggestive way in which her ass wobbles
tips him off!
sort of wish I was making that up, but I'm not.
he tussles with her until some guys in white show up and beat
the hell out of Shinbei because he is an ass. Apparently these
two fellows, named Daikaku and Dosetsu (again, not like it
matters) are apparently descendants of the Princess' family
retainers and are there to help. They take off with the Princess,
leaving Shinbei alone. However, he discovers there is a reward
being offered by the Bad Guys for her capture, so he sets
out in pursuit.
Daisomething and Dowhatever. Not evil.
succesfully defeated the idiot Shinbei, the three good people
sit around the campfire to unleash the Scroll of Exposition,
a sacred document that explains most of the backstory. Nothing
in the movie up to this point had really prepared me for how
weird the story was about to get, however.
seems that one hundred years ago, the Princess' ancestors
raided Castle Gloomy and set fire to it with the Evil People
inside. Unfortunately, through a dark pact with that spirit
in the cave, Evil Lady put a dreadful curse on the Princess'
family, and doesn't actually die, along with Son #1. The good
Emperor, who is mightily distressed at this development, has
a fit of desparation and promises the Princess (not our
princess, her ancestor, I guess) to the freaking castle dog
if the dog can bring back the head of some bad dude named
Princess believes that a promise is a promise and, in the
movie's words, "gives herself to him", a sentence
I don't even want to think of the ramifications of.
They run away together and she tames the dog with her flute.
Of course, the royal family is extraordinarily upset that
she's done this, so they set out to assassinate the dog. While
attempting to shoot it, the princess blocks the shot and takes
a few dozen arrows for the team. Eight crystals fly out of
her body (I know, I know - why?) and the princess,
before dying, promises everyone that those crystals will become
cool ninja people who will lift the curse in a hundred years'
and Other Dude, in the present, then reveal their crystals
- heh heh, double meaning - and give the princess that very
same flute mentioned in the Scroll of Exposition. They explain
that Evil Lady's soldiers are all ghosts and only the eight
ninjas can kick their collective asses, and so it is agreed
that they must find the remaining six. We are then brought
back to the Evil Cave, where essentially the same story is
told and the very same warrior ghosts are dispatched to prevent
this Fellowship from ever coming together.
I should clarify at this point - the movie is called Legend
of Eight Samurai, but the movie constantly refers to them
as eight Ninja. Since that is easier to type, I am going with
Snake Lady. Seemingly evil, or is she?
movie now inexplicably moves to a wedding scene, which is
interrupted when the groom is assassinated by the Snake Lady.
The bride's brother, Shiro, tries to catch her, but fails
and is kicked around a bit. In the resulting confusion, the
bride is killed, but not before suddenly fading away and leaving
behind Shino's special crystal dealiewhacker. The Snake Lady
goes to pick up her reward and in a small but pivotal scene
reveals that she also has a crystal.
movie jumps again to follow Shinbei around as he swings through
a forest. Like, on vines and stuff. He is confronted by the
Evil Lady for reasons that are not clear, and then he finds
a corpse, for reasons which are also not clear.
Corpse. Not evil, on account of being dead.
much everyone we've seen with a crystal thus far coincidentally
converges on a temple in the forest, where they meet &
greet. A mother of one of the Ninjas returns while they are
talking, acts very strange, and suddenly tears off her
face and turns into a gigantic Centipede. I'm not sure
if this is a common occurence in feudal Japan, but somehow
it seems like it might be. One ninja declares "She's
not your mother!" ("no shit", replies audience)
and a fight ensues.
It just occured to me that the corpse is the real
Crystals save the day by shooting the centipede until it turns
to goo, and the Evil Lady, who was watching nearby, ages perceptibly
after their use. She flees to the Castle Gloomy where she
bathes in blood to restore her 'good' looks. Even though she
is naked, this scene sets the tone for all of the startingly
un-erotic scenes in the movie.
Naked ladies. Not normally evil, but the blood changes
doing this she goes and checks with the staff Wizard, who
has created many beautiful ladies that are incredibly poisonous.
This doesn't pay off until way later, so pay attention.
the other side of events, the Ninja are travelling through
the forest when they fall for Shinbei's cunning trap and he
kidnaps the princess. Were I the Princess, I would have basically
lost all hope for my Ninja right there - Shinbei is a moron,
and if they can't even defend her from him, then how can they
hope to succeed against real Evil People? Anyway,
after some tom-foolery in the forest, Shinbei and Princess
return to Green Village, which has recently been destroyed
by Evil Lady's forces. They watch as some children are mercilessly
killed by the bad soldiers, who return, and Shinbei and Princess
are chased into a nearby cave.
are then confronted by many Gollum-esque freaks that the Princess
calms with her flute, who then part way for a little boy and
a Giant that also turn out to have crystals. They leave and
hook up with the remaining Ninjas, who decide that Shinbei
must be killed as he is following them and generally being
annoying. I dunno, I kinda thought they were the good guys,
but to just kill a dude? Yikes.
try, but ultimately fail - which, if I were the Princess,
I think I'd take that as a pretty bad sign as well - and he
rolls down a hill, only to be captured by the Bad People,
who take him to Castle Gloomy. Evil Lady and Son #1 then mercilessly
play mindgames with Shinbei by telling him he is Son #2, and
therefore quite evil. They take him down to the Pool Of Blood
and Shinbei starts wigging out a little bit, but he recovers
and starts playing the Princess' flute (though I haven't the
slightest idea how he got it). It is apparently a Flute of
Melodramatic Inducement, as it causes Evil Lady to start seriously
freaking out and not have any fun at all.
Castle Gloomy. Pretty evil, what with the red and all.
#1 takes it upon himself to stop all this craziness and stabs
the hell out of Shinbei, who really hasn't had that much of
a good time in the movie thus far. His body is then handed
over to the staff Wizard, who is placed in charge of fixing
him up and making him evil like them. While this is going
on, we return to the Princess and her Ninja as they rest in
the mountains. They explain that there are two Ninja still
missing and it is of course very imperative that they are
found, lest they rush Castle Gloomy shortstaffed.
in the Castle, a rogue castle guard apparently takes it upon
himself to rush the Wizard's lair and stab him, while rescuing
Shinbei. He takes Shinbei to where the Ninja are camped in
the mountains and introduces himself as Genpachi, though it
isn't like any of them really care at this point either. Apparently,
Shinbei's flute "woke something deep within him"
and he turned to the good side, even though they are all supposed
to be evil ghosts working at the Castle. I guess not...?
however, will have none of this happiness and wakes up evil.
He starts fighting with all the Ninja who are really ready
to kill him this time until the Princess stops them. She thinks
they can reason with him, but reason is evidently thrown to
the wind when he is struck by lighting anyway. According to
the logic of this movie, lightning is an excellent way to
cure evil, as he wakes up just fine. The rest of the Ninjas
head into a nearby cave for the night, and the Princess admits
that she truly loves him. Being night, of course, it's time
to prove it. Bow-chicka-wow-wowww...
Making out. Typically not evil.
it may or may not surprise you to know that the screen capture
seen here is really the most erotic that this love scene ever
gets. For a few minutes, we are treated to a number of blurry,
very-close-up shots of them kissing and groping each other,
while in the background some statues light up. They wake up
the next morning, only to be attacked by a gigantic snake
that wraps himself around the princess and flies off.
out that the snake is in the employ of the Evil People, who
laugh hysterically on a nearby hilltop because they have the
Princess, and laughing evilly is just what evil people do.
The Ninja get their crystals together and summon some weird
multi-armed and almost-totally-obscured-by-special-effects
lady who hands them a magic bow and basically tells them to
go kick some ass.
Glowing things with arms. Probably evil.
is a catch. Apparently only the Princess can draw the bow,
which seems awfully useless, and it must be used to dispatch
the Evil Lady, which is obvious. So it is that they set out
for the endgame.
arrive at the castle without even an ounce of stealth, and
gradually make their way through, killing many, many
people and one by one dying their own heroic deaths. Eventually,
only Shinbei remains in the upper chamber with the Princes
and the Evil Lady. Of course, the mortal blow is heroically
struck, and since all evil tyrants are naturally load-bearing,
the castle collapses in her wake. Shinbei and the Princess
escape just before the castle explodes violently, (which seems
odd, as it was made of stone).
Getting an arrow to the boob - evil or not, depending
on which side of the arrow you're on.
movie goes into the prologue which is unfortunately far too
long and of course ends with Shinbei and the Princess riding
off into the sunset and many sexy adventures, to be sure.
the movie was pretty entertaining and contained many strange
plot twists, like Princesses falling in love with dogs, old
ladies that turn into centipides, humongous flying snakes,
and much killing at the end. I can certainly imagine worse
things than having to watch it again, and for my part, that's
the nicest thing I can probably say about this kind of movie.
having said all that, it's super bonus time!
is my original text file of notes that I made while watching
the movie. These are really stream-of-consciousness, hard
to understand, and possibly funnier than this entire article.
is an MP3 of the title theme, which is incredibly out of place
for the rest of the movie, and rocks pretty hard in that sort
of way that it actually doesn't. Enjoy! (1.86mb)