Filmmakers are funny people at times. They see an idea, perhaps witness the one-take wonder of 1917 or Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and they decide to take it to the next level.
This is what director Yuji Shimomura (“Re: Born”, “Death Trance”) has done with a script from first-time writer Atsuki Tomori; seen the long tradition of one-shot scenes or movies and taken it up a notch…or three.
Crazy Samurai (known as Crazy Samurai Musashi or Crazy Samurai 400 vs 1) is, as the name suggests, crazy. Musashi Miyamoto, Tak Sakaguchi (“Yakuza Weapon”, “Versus”), is a much feared samurai warrior who decides, because why not, to wipe out an entire clan.
It should be said that Miyamoto was an actual samurai, born in 1584, who was known for his double-bladed swordmanship and undefeated record of 61 wins in his duels.
Taking some artistic license with Miyamoto’s life, Tomori and Shimomura decide that the legend would be able to take on 400 samurai and, spoiler alert, win.
What this means from a movie perspective is that Miyamoto is walking through various scenes, a forest, an abandoned village etc, and having to face a whole raft of samurai who, for reasons of ‘this is a movie’ decide not to attack him all at once, or from behind, allowing him to kill them.
From the moment this fight starts we enter single shot mode, never leaving Miyamoto as he works his way through the 400 samurai.
This could have worked, it perhaps should have worked, sadly, it doesn’t quite manage it. It’s very obvious there aren’t 400 people, instead, as people are ‘killed’, they roll out of shot and join the back of the group to attack again later.
The fight lasts for the majority of the movie but each individual group fight within is pretty much the same. There’s nothing new or exciting about them, Miyamoto mostly dispatching his enemy with a swift blow to the head.
With so little dialogue and the only really exciting fight coming right at the end, Crazy Samurai isn’t the most thrilling movie you are going to see. However, should a samurai be able to take on 400 people, this is probably the most likely way it would go down, I mean, apart from no-one thinking to attack him all at once.
Crazy Samurai is an ambitious movie that’s as crazy as the title suggests, but it isn’t as crazy as anything produced by Takashi Miike for example, but, it’s an ambitious take on the one-shot movie, it’s just a shame it didn’t quite fulfil its potential.