DVD Review – Goemon

Goemon DVD

Goemon is Kiyuzaki Kiriya’s second movie after the somewhat bonkers Casshern. Whilst that one was in the near future, Goemon goes back to 16th century Feudal Japan. Goemon, our eponymous hero, is a semi-legendary bandit who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor.

The story is based on historical facts – the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi is in charge of Japan, after the assassination of the former liege lord Oda Nobunaga, but takes a fantastical turn. In this retelling of the Goemon story, he is a loyal aide to Nobunaga, who after his assassination chooses a life of freedom as an master thief, rather than be tied to a master and become a samurai.

However, when two other lords investigate the truth behind Nobunaga’s assassination, Goemon becomes embroiled in plots that involve his oldest friend and fellow ninja Saizo and the woman he loves Lady Chacha. He starts on a path of revenge with damning consequences, but ultimately finds a way to prevent Japan heading towards further civil war.

Like Casshern the film has strong themes of betrayal, loss and redemption. Goemon starts off as a light-hearted, happy go-lucky character, who tries to forget his past and live for the moment. However as feuding lords start to battle for Japan, he finds he has to take action to avenge his former employer, while recognising this is not the path he should have chosen.

Thematically similar to Chinese film Hero it is a film about the need to do the right thing for a country, even if it means hard choices and self-sacrifice. Goemon is constantly challenged as to whether his “freedom” is a good thing, his decision to be his own man drives the action to some inevitable conclusions.

Far less convoluted than Casshern, the plot drives forward with several spectacular scenes. Kiriya utilises CGI in an outstanding fashion, but this is a strange mix of old and new, with many scenes reminiscent of such Hollywood movies as “Thief of Bagdad”, utilising a Technicolor palette. Other scenes are far more restraine, some using a more muted version of the monochrome cinematography seen in “Sin City”. Similarly some of the action sequences mirror videogames whilst others mirror scenes from movies such as “Ran”, although this time using CGI rather than thousands of extras.

The performances are excellent from Yôsuke Eguchi as Goemon and Takao Ôsawa as his best friend and closest enemy Saizo. If you know the original story of Goemon then this take on it offers a number of pleasant surprises.

Innovative, visually stunning and epic in scope, Kiriya once again produces a film that deserves far more than cult status. Currently at the frankly bonkers price of £5.00 at Amazon, it’s an absolute must purchase.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on November 22, 2010.

One Response to “DVD Review – Goemon”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PabloCheesecake and Craig Bloomfield, Moviegrrl . Moviegrrl said: DVD Review – Goemon: http://wp.me/pVs0H-hS […]

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