Let’s get repetitive.
The Crazy Musashi is a Japanese action film that released overseas last year. It recently popped up over here, and the narrative sounds good. We follow Musashi, a lone warrior who faces off against 400 samurai after assassinating a clan leader. We’re promised relentless action and badassery.
I did not know until after we started this movie that the primary claim to fame is that the primary action scene is done in a single long shot. A really long short—about 70 minutes. Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi) proves to be a badass in a lot of the stunt work, but the film ultimately suffers from its adherence to this technical approach.
Once the fight scene begins, we primarily follow Musashi from behind as he takes on his opponents mostly one at a time. I think we’ve all grown to accept that choreography is just easier when people fight as a duo. However, we get an extra issue here: repeat actors. When someone is struck by Musashi they crawl off screen and you can see them then run around the back of the group to be struck again. Sure, we get the occasional body, but mostly it is the same thirty or so just cycle through.
Seeing the actors get back in line to fight again breaks the movie. It is laughable watching them circle back. What makes this even worse is that Tak is mostly stuck doing the same five or six moves for everyone. Yes, the limits on the moves are mainly due to the vast length of the scene, but that does not make it a compelling watch.
Oddly, the fight scene becomes boring. It is like watching someone play Dynasty Warriors where a bunch of interchangeable villains are quickly slaughtered by the hero. The videogame analogy works well for this movie. We have safe zones where our hero can get a drink and rest for a moment before the enemies “level up” with a costume change.
The digital blood added in editing ends up looking cartoonish. For the vast majority of the movie, we end up with little blood or carnage, which should be everywhere in this situation. The budget limitations become painfully clear as so much of the film feels like an endless loop.
What sucks here is that the love and passion of the film is clear as day. This movie was made with what they saw as an interesting idea and they carried it through. Yes, this is ultimately to the detriment of the film, but for a technical achievement it is impressive. While I don’t think the movie is good, it is certainly a respectable accomplishment. Even with the sometimes simple choreography, this is a massive undertaking of effort, stamina, and focus. It is tragic that the film ends up being an unfun watch.
The other major bummer of the film is that in the final fight scene we end up moving away from the single shot and get the best choreography of the movie. The energy and chaos of this final fight is awesome. We get to see how much of a badass Tak Sakaguchi is in this scene more than at any other point in the movie.
We can tip out hat to this team. They made a passion project that just didn’t work out. It is frustrating to review this as the whole film (minus about ten minutes) is a slog of a fight. While this is one of the less enjoyable films I’ve seen recently, it is also a type of bad that I prefer. Here we have people who tried to do something special with love and ambition that didn’t work. I’ll take this type of failure over a soulless cash grab any day.