"Goemon" is based on the life of Ishikawa Goemon a legendary 16th century ninja warrior and bandit who stole valuables and gave them to the poor. There is little historical information on Goemon's life, and thus he has become a folk hero, whose background and origins have been widely speculated upon. The movie version is set to create a new interpretation of the character.
Cast & Credits
To be able to enjoy this film, you first need to prepare yourself mentally, open your imagination, widen your horizons and forget about the usual filmmaking. If you’re unable to do that then it’s unnecessary to even think about watching this.
This film talks about one of the most famous Japanese folklore tales; Goemen who’s almost a splitting image of Robin Hood with some changes. This also takes historical events and figures from the 16th century into consideration but this should never be considered a reference to Japanese history because it’s inaccurate most of the time.
The film’s pace was really fast; sometimes it doesn’t even give you a chance to think twice. It’s action packed and quite bloody and violent. It’s a samurai/ninja tale so you can pretty much expect a lot of fighting, killing and blood splashes all over the place but it wasn’t overdone. Beside the martial arts and swords clanks, there were also bromance, humor and even some little romance moments so it doesn’t leave you room to complain about the extra-focus on action.
The casting of this film was spot on. Eguchi Yosuke is such a talented actor and one of the best older actors in Japan; he has a strong onscreen presence which made the role suit him very well. The other actors where quite good especially Osawa Takao; I really loved his interactions with Egushi.
The characters were also rather enjoyable with all of their interesting developments. It’s true that most of the characters in this film are real historical figures but that doesn’t specifically mean that every character development and destiny is historically accurate.
Now, let’s speak about the cores of this film which are: CGI, visuals and realism. This film is packed with CGI, it’s a fantasy alright but it’s not a Hollywood fantasy; this is made in Japan. I am not saying that as a bad thing, I actually mean it as a good thing because no one will dare to make or even give the green light for a similar film to be made in Hollywood. The CGI in this film was never meant to be real; it’s not only unreal but it’s also mythically surreal. Just think of it as if you’re playing a Samurai or a ninja video game or watching an animated book being made into a film; that’s the best way to get used and to accept the effects in this film. And yes, creativity has no limits; Kiriya Kazuaki deserves all the respect for taking his chances and making this film.
The visuals where eye-catching and the somewhat dark cinematography was very well done. Maybe the costumes used for this film aren’t historically accurate. Because after all, those armors aren’t what samurai lords and vassals used to wear but that’s trivial for the storyline’s flowing. And just for the record, this film was made with a low budget so it’s pointless to compare it with visually proclaimed Hollywood films when it doesn’t even get 10% of their budget.
Watch this if:
-You’re an action lover but as I mentioned, you should keep your imagination alert.
-You like Samurai and Ninja stories.
-You’re into somewhat weird Japanese cinema.
-You like to watch an impressive Japanese tale that resembles a fairytale without the exaggerated storytelling.
Do not watch if:
-You don’t appreciate creative filmmaking; it’s useless to waste your time on this.
-You dislike Japanese weird films and you find them strange and a waste of space.
-You think you can compare this to other films you’ve seen before.
-You like to watch historically accurate productions because this one isn’t.
Goemen is a film against standards; it has its own genre and needs its own viewers. Needless to say, this is absolutely not directed for everyone.
The story may not be entirely original but, it unfolds beautifully. At first glance, this movie appears to be all action and no substance. But boy does it have substance. The movie deals with war, people's desires and friendships. I was really pleasantly surprised with the character developments, and all the actors did a great job of depicting their characters. The action scenes were over the top but they were fun.
What makes this movie a 10/10? This movie simply moved me, I felt for the characters, it made me think about wars and it made my heart ache. It was a thoroughly enjoyable viewing, I hope you give it a go as well.