Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
Okay, well, I made you a promise in my review of Seven Souls in the
Skull Castle that I would see if I could find at least some of the
other versions (out of eight total) of this story that have been filmed .
And with this review, I begin to make good on that promise. I have every
expectation that, just like the many different productions of Shakespeare’s
plays that have been produced, each one of these Seven Souls films
with show something different from all of the others, despite the fact that
they are all of exactly the same story. And so far, with this first one,
that expectation was more than met. But more about that further
below. For now, let me just say that at this point, this production
is my favorite (of the two I have seen to date), and that I would certainly
watch it again. So buckle up, sit back, and pay attention, as this month,
Da’ud Bob reviews for you this filming of a May 17, 2017 stage production of
Seven Souls in the Skull Castle: Season Flower.
It’s hard to find adequate information (at least in English) of the cast in
this production. All of the credits were in Japanese, which I do not read.
And IMDb only gave the following: Munetaka Aoki; Shun Oguri; and Kôji
Yamamoto. I don’t know who played in which role, and all of the
other actors were annoyingly omitted. The plot, though, is the same as in my
previous review of the 2013 release of the 2011 stage production of Seven
Souls in the Skull Castle: The year is 1590, during the Sengoku
period of near constant civil war, when three warlords in a row sought to
unify the country: Oda Nobunaga; Toyotomi Hideyoshi; and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
The setting for this movie is shortly after Nobunaga’s death, when Hideyoshi
was then conquering Japan, with the assistance of Ieyasu. A former vassal of
the late Nobunaga, Tenmao (claiming to be the spirit of the Demon King),
leads an armed group hiding in the Skull Castle. Sutenosuke rescued a woman
who has been chased by Tenmao’s Skull Corps. To hide and shelter the woman,
Sutenosuke meets Mukaiya Ranbe at a brothel district in the nearby town.
When the shared past between Sutenosuke and Ranbe and their relation to
Tenmao come to light, it is also the time when the dark ambition of Tenmao
is about to be revealed. Sutenosuke heads for the Skull Castle to destroy it
and stop Tenmao’s ambition with just six other people. And that’s
just the main, overarching plot. So, yeah, it’s a little Seven Samurai,
but also not.
Good points: The fight choreography! I don’t know who choreographed the
fighting, but he or she deserves any and all possible awards for it. The
plots and counterplots throughout: betrayal; sacrifice; friendship; love;
bravery; and self-sacrifice. There are plenty of plot twists to keep your
interest through this three-hour-long movie. But it was the stage that
really made this production for me. It was a 360̊ revolving stage with the
audience sitting in the middle; as scenes changed, the curtains would close,
the stage would rotate, and then the curtains would open on a new scene in
front of the audience. It was amazing. And the stage not only had buildings,
hills, a castle, etc., but even a water-filled “river” in one section. The
slo-mo effects. That really is the Tokugawa mon.
Bad points: As before, there’s a lot of yelling going on.
Zero breasts. Two gallons of blood. 34 dead bodies. Katana fu. Fan fu. Knife
fu. Lantern fu. Naginata fu. Potion fu. Hammer fu. Musket fu. Magnet fu. Axe
fu. Hand-held repeating gun fu. Shield fu. Stub of a sword fu. Sickle fu.
Spear fu. Sword-within-a-sword fu. Head rolls. Bicycle rolls. Samurai roll.
Ninjas roll. Gratuitous ninjas. Gratuitous strip(tease). Gratuitous dying
swan dance, complete with Swan Lake music. Gratuitous dove hand puppet.
Gratuitous paean to a katana. Gratuitous roller skates. The Rowdies of the
East are some wild and crazy guys. A 37 on the Vomit Meter. Like the earlier
production, 3½ stars. Da’ud Bob says, “It may be the same story, but that
rotating stage brings it to a whole other level. Check it out!”
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