A student of martial arts is on a quest to seek seven scrolls containing the fighting secrets of seven different disciplines: stick, knife, sword, kung fu, nunchaku, firearm, and special weapons. Along the way, he must learn his enemy's ways by what they eat, and bring both secrets and stories of his adventures home to his master. Featuring blistering martial arts, comedy, and food, Bushido Man will leave you with a taste for more than just action.
Do you like food? Do you like kicking butt? Do you like food while kicking butt? Then 'Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles' is the perfect film for you. So many foreign martial arts films have fallen into a daze where they are overly long with only a few minutes of epic fight scenes between the long and drawn out stories that are being told. Don't get me wrong, I love a good story, character development, and excellent dialogue, but I feel you don't need 45 minutes of that to set the stage for a good fight scene. And that's what director Takanori Tsujimoto does great here.
He has made a short 88 minute movie that is nothing but eating and punching. And I loved it, despite its over-the-top antics, lack of story and character development, and insane ending out of left field. What might also make some viewers roll their eyes and shake their heads is that this movie is mostly all one big flashback sequence, and that we are being told the story of the seven deadly battles by our main hero, which tells us he survived, putting each battle at a lower level of suspense, because we indeed know he will be victorious.
This main hero of ours is Toramaru (Mitsuki Koga), who has finally made it back to the dojo and master that trained him. His master Gensai (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi) and his cute little secretary sent Toramaru on a long journey to challenge different fighters of different martial arts styles, and to bring back a scroll from each conquest, basically saying he is the best. Gensai cannot wait to hear about the seven deadly battles that his student Toramaru endured, but before we go any further, let's talk about the sub-plot of the film, which is food. Gensai taught Toramaru that if you eat the same ethnic food as your opponent does, you will be able to understand them as a person and their fighting moves.
So the whole movie plays out where Toramaru eats noodles, dumplings, or meat that his opponent eats, set to some magical music. Then Toramaru fights his opponent, wins, and moves on to the next meal and fight. Repeat this seven times and you have 'Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles'. There really isn't much in the way of deep meaning here, although, the characters will definitely want you to believe there is with the relation of food and fighting, but it isn't explained or touched on.
Toramaru's fights escalate into the absurd, fighting with fists and feet, to fighting with knives, to fighting with sticks, to fighting the Yakuza, to even fighting with guns and even a blind swordsman, which is an obvious nod to 'Zatoichi'. As the fights progress, there begins to be a sense of a cartoon and Looney Toons vibe with each of them with silly fight movements and angles. It's all highly entertaining and quite comical. There is even a scene where Toramaru and his opponent stop fighting to let a slow as molasses turtle cross the road in fear of killing the poor innocent creature. Does the film lead to some sort of meaning or ending? No, not really, but there is a crazy ending out of nowhere that will make you laugh and stick with you for days.
Koga is very good as Toramaru and the others serve as great martial arts fighters if nothing more. What was cool about this film is that they didn't use any visual effects or wires, minus the small scene with the guns. These are trained stuntmen and actors who know how to fall and take a hit, so everything looks very real and packs a powerful punch. I'm sure there were several injuries on the set of this movie and Tsujimoto's camera does a great job of showing off the actor's martial arts skills by not making quick cuts all of the time. 'Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles' is a fun and whacky martial arts movie that goes by fast, has thrilling fight scenes, and packs a few laughs.
'Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image as a whole looks fairly soft throughout, but that is due to the high contrast look the director wanted, which made the film look a bit hazy at times. When the contrast is not intentionally out of whack, but normal looking, the colors and detail look very good. Closeup shots reveal wrinkles, dirt, makeup blemishes, and individual hairs on the actor's faces quite nicely, and there is a good bit of depth as well with the wider shots.
Colors also look very natural and bright when the contrast is not up. You will notice some color hue changes during some of the outdoor scenes, but it was also intentional. The black levels are mostly deep and inky and the skin tones look natural as well. There was some minor video noise and banding, but it's nothing to write home about, leaving this release with a decent video presentation.
There are three different audio options to choose from. There is a LPCM 2.0 stereo mix available in both English and Japanese as well as a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track available in English. Now most of us will always prefer the original foreign language track to any dubbed track any day of the week, but surprisingly, these English mixes are quite good, and never stray into an over-the-top goofy sound or dialogue, like we have seen time and time again.
I'm still going to say that the Japanese LPCM 2.0 track is the way to go, but the English 5.1 version has the better sound effects and overall immersive sound for this action movie. The dynamic range is wider in the 5.1 track and offers more lows and bass than the 2.0 track. That being said, dialogue is always easy to follow and crystal clear, and is free of any pops, cracks, or hissing.
The Making of 'Bushido Man' (HD, 12 mins.) - I wouldn't say this is a "Making-Of' feature, but more like a camera following some of the filmmakers around the Fantasia Film Festival and their Q&A during their screening where they talk about the fight scenes. I was a bit let down with this one.
'Bushido Man' is actually quite a lot of fun. It's set up in such a way, that it is mostly just action sequences, vdeoid of any real strong sense of a plot or character. But that's a good thing, as a lot of times in these foreign films about fighting, we have to sit through two hours of story to get to a decent fight scene. That's not the case here, as we get to see food and fighting mixed together quite well. The video is decent and the audio is better than expected, however the only extra wasn't all that good. That being said, if you're a fan of the Japanese fighting films, then you'll want to add this to your collection. Recommended!