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SAMURAI FICTION
CAST & STAFF LONG SYNOPSIS Hiroyuki Nakano: Biography KEY CAST
BACKGROUND Paul Smith WHAT CRITICS SAY Review
cast
WMPREAL

CAST:

Morio Kazama as Hanbei Mizoguchi
Mitsuru Fukikoshi as Heishiro Inukai
Tomoyasu Hotei as Rannosuke Kazamatsuri
Tamaki Ogawa as Koharu Mizoguchi
Taketoshi Naito as Kanze Inukai
Kei Tani as Kagemaru
Hiroshi Kanbe as Gosuke
Ken Osawa as Tadasuke Osawa
Naoyuki Fujii as Shintaro Suzuki
Fumiya Fujii as Ryunosuke Kuzumi
Mari Natsuki as Okatsu

STAFF:

Director: Hiroyuki Nakano
Screenplay: Hiroshi Saito
Music: Tomoyasu Hotei
Director of Photography: Yujiro Yajima
Lighting: Kazutaka Shiihara
Production Design: Masateru Mochizuki, Hiroshi Fujita
Costume: Yoshihiko Egi, Kazuo Matsuda
Editor: Kiyoharu Miyazaki, Hiroyuki Nakano
Sound: Ichiro Hoshi
Producers: Takaaki Ezaki, Hiroto Kimura, Kaoru Hayashi, Tsuyoshi Takashiro
Executive Producer: Mitsuru Ito
Production: SAMURAI FICTION PRODUCTION COMMITTEE

1998, Color & B&W, Vista Size 1:1.85, 111 min.

LONG SYNOPSIS

- The Sword of Anger vs. the Sword of Peace -

300 years ago Japan was ruled by the Shogun. His warrior administrators, the samurai, ensured good government which brought a lasting peace to a land that had been in turmoil for centuries.

Heishiro Inukai (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), short-tempered and always ready to fight is just back from the Shogun's capital of Edo, where he had been mastering the martial art of fencing.

The Nagashima clan to which Heishiro belongs had previously hired a renegade swordsman, Kazamatsuri (Tomoyasu Hotei), to guard the castle's treasures.

Far from protecting the treasures, Kazamatsuri actually steals the clan's most precious object, a sword entrusted to the clan by the very Shogun himself. Knowing full well that if word of the stolen sword reached the ears of the shogunate, the clan would be disbanded and exiled in disgrace, the clan leaders hatch a plan to both recover the relic and install a carefully made copy.

Recently returned Heishiro, son of Clan Senior Councilor Kanzen (Taketoshi Naito), sets out to find Kazamatsuri and recover the sword. Heishiro and his two closest friends, Kurosawa and Suzuki, soon come upon Kazamatsuri who easily handles the three would-be-heroes. With Kurosawa dead and Heishiro badly wounded, Suzuki hastens back to the fief, leaving his friends in the care of a passing samurai. "Lapsed samurai" would be a better description for Hanbei Mizoguchi (Morio Kazama), a man with no official post who ekes out a living in a mountain hut he shares with his pretty daughter, Koharu (Tamaki Ogawa).

Unlike most samurai, Hanbei is a pacifist who adheres to the Way of Peace philosophy which forswears violence. As Heishiro slowly recovers from his wounds, Hanbei feeds him a steady diet of pacificist philosophy while Koharu tends to both men's material needs.

Heishiro, while eager to gain revenge on Kazamatsuri and recover the clan treasure, manages to fall in love with the gentle Koharu.

Meanwhile, Kazamatsuri is employed as a bodyguard by a vamp gambler in a nearby town.

While bumbling ninja sent by Heishiro's father keep careful watch over Kazamatsuri, Heishiro gathers his strength for the showdown.

Hiroyuki Nakano: Biography

Born in 1958 at Fukuyama-city, Hiroshima, Japan

Director Hiroyuki Nakano has made a cutting edge film through his skillful blending of traditional Japanese film-making techniques and advanced digital technology, as well as hard rock and flashing swords, has expanded the boundaries of film-making and created an entirely new genre, the rock 'n roll samurai flick.

The Kurosawa of MTV

Nakano established the Tirrel Corporation in 1985, Japan's first music video production company.

His stunning music clip "Grooves Is In The Heart" (Electra) performed by Deee-Lite, was nominated in 6 categories at the 1990 MTV MUSIC AWARDS.

In 1992 Nakano established the Peacedelic Studio to expand its creative capacity. The outflow from Peacedelic Studio includes music clips for Paul Weller, Les Rita Mitsouko "Hip Kit" (Virgin), Les Negresses Vertes "Sous Le Soleil De Bodega" (Delabel), Saint Entienne "Nothing Can't Stop Us" (Warner), Mr. Children, F-Blood, Miki Imai, Glay, and many others.

Nakano's music clip "Niten-Ichiryu" (Virgin) for the British drums and bass artists PHOTEK in 1996, a forerunner for "Samurai Fiction", had been aired worldwide on MTV and was also screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival to great acclaim.

Other Works & Awards:

'86 "Gyokaikun Monogatari" Second AVA Grand Prix Entertainment Award
'90 "PACE/Peaceful People" 6th AVA Grand Prix Award
'94 "Peace Blue" Video art of peaceful dolphins
'95 "a place in the sun film" A work made from Miki Imai's music album
'95 "ALOHA WAVE" Video of Hawaiian Big Wave Multimedia Grand Prix Award
'96 "Thrill" Best director Prize and Best Male Performance Prize (Tomoyasu Hotei) at Hong Kong Star TV - Channel V Music Award

Nakano also produces and directs TV and radio programs, commercial films, internet homepages, multimedia titles, fashion shows, events, as well as graphic designs.

KEY CAST

The Frightening and Threatening Figure of Tomoyasu HOTEI as Rannosuke Kazamatsuri

Sooner or later Japan's most famous guitar player was destined for this kind of role, if only because his slashing guitar style has so much in common with a sword swinging samurai. The violence, tension and solidarity of Hotei's brilliant performance perfectly complement the improvised musical score that punctuates Samurai Fiction.

Tomoyasu HOTEI (Musician / Guitarist)
Born 1962 in Japan.
From 1979 to 1988 Hotei was lead guitarist of BOOWY,
one of Japan's most popular rock bands.
Hotei was featured as special guest at the David Bowie
Tokyo Concert in 1996.
Michael Keiman, asked Hotei to perform at the closing
ceremony of the Atlanta Olympic Games 1996.
"Psychopath" 1997 sold 800,000 discs
Hotei became a solo performer after a hundred thousand
fans gathered at BOOWY's 1988 LAST GIG at the
Tokyo Dome.
"Supersonic Generation" 1998, "Kamen Hotei Guitar
Concerto" 1998
Music Video "Thrill", "Last Scene", "Circus", "H"

Pacifist swordsman Hanbei

Unlike other typical historical movies, Samurai Fiction is set in an undetermined place in an undetermined age. The opening sequences which have three boyish adventurers setting out to hunt for the villain Kazamatsuri, is heavily reminiscent of "new cinema" or "road" movies. In contrast to their youthful passion, the message conveyed by Hanbei Mizoguchi is one of anti-violence and pacifism. Hanbei (Morio Kazama,) plays the pivotal role of a master swordsman who has forsworn violence.

Sex in a Bottle

Mari Natsuki excels in the sultry role of Okatsu. Full frontal nudity is not needed to express the pure sex of temptress, Okatsu. A simple and compelling close-up of Okatsu's mouth, a stream of smoke escaping with a hiss as her eyelids rise in invitation, is all that is needed to excite most men.

Pure and innocent Koharu

Koharu (Tamaki Ogawa) daughter of Hanbei Mizoguchi, falls in love with the young hero, Heishiro. Unlike many actresses of her age Ogawa has no need to ride exaggerated trends. Her pure and gentle nature say far more than excesses ever could.

Heishiro's bloody nose

"I put a blood cap in my nostril and waited for the director's 'Action!'. As soon as the camera started rolling, the blood flowed. Director Nakano stopped and complained there was too much blood. So we shot and re-shot the scene until we finally got it right. It took two days!"

Comical relief by bumbling Ninja, Kei Tani

Every samurai drama has a scene where the lord summons his Ninja who drops down out of the ceiling and gives a resounding "Hai!" to his master. The Ninja in Samurai Fiction, played by Kei Tani, is nearing retirement age, so he creaks a little. Fans of the "Crazy Cats" will revel in the exquisite timing and comical buffoonery that Tani brings to the part.

BACKGROUND

World's first rock'n roll samurai movie

Director Hiroyuki Nakano wanted to make a movie which combined both the style and the swordsmanship of the Edo Era (1600-1853). Life in the Edo Era was enriched by arts like the Ukiyoe woodblock prints and Kabuki theater. We can find the same kind of richness in the images of our modern age as director Nakano brings his unique personal touch to the world's first rock'n roll samurai movie.

"My principle when creating images is to make the viewer want to keep watching to the very end no matter where they started."

Tomoyasu Hotei's sword is equivalent to his guitar. Hotei, playing guitar, cuts a fine figure of a samurai.

A film with perfect visuals and a message of peace.

This film begins with a narration from the soul of the hero, Heishiro. 300 years on he is reborn and he reflects on his previous life and the message of peace it brings.

The message is "Thou shalt not kill" and this maxim is repeated by Mizoguchi, the ronin, or masterless samurai played by Morio Kazama.

The most important thing is for all to live on till the end

Each soul will continue on its journey until it eventually reaches heaven

The only way to reach heaven is through love and peace.

Paul Smith

Nakano is pleased to say, "After screening of Samurai Fiction, Paul presented me a T-shirt he'd designed in honor of Samurai Fiction."

The words from the mouth of Paul Smith are like this;

Superb Film Simply Fabulous
Sounds Fantastic Special Favorite
Samurai Fiction Slick Film
Super Funky Special Feature

FROM THE OPENING CREDITs ONWARDS
THIS FILM IS FULL OF CREATIVITY
AND STRONG GRAPHIC QUALITIES
BUT WITH AN INCREDIBLY MODERN EDGE.
COMPULSIVE!

SAMURAI A GO GO!

PAUL SMITH --- Fashion Designer

WHAT CRITICS SAYS

A COOL "SAMURAI" MOTION GRAPHICS

Director Hiroyuki Nakano, who is a world famous video director has taken a big step towards the movie industry with his first movie SF SAMURAI FICTION which is due out in Japan at Chine la Set Tokyo. Nakano has an outstanding reputation making many great artists' music videos, such as Paul Weller, Mr.Children and Glay (currently youth oriented, popular Japanese rock bands). This is not a Sci-fi movie but a hilarious SAMURAI movie! Casting is unique in that the guy who plays a mysterious swordsman is in real life a famous Japanese guitarist, Mr. Tomoyasu Hotei and the catchy pictures bring new wave into this classic genre.

Director Nakano says, "I have concentrated on making them look really cool with a fully-worked out edit and angle."

With innovative composition, rhythmic cuts, and editing, Nakano created a "motion graphics" SAMURAI entertainment.

(4 August, 1998 ASAHI Newspaper)

REVIEW

06/20/99 gVarietyh
By Derek Elley

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 20, 1999

Part loving tribute, part genre bender, gSamurai Fictionh is a clever often witty, postmodern spin on Japanfs most durable cultural export. Like the recent, much bigger gBayside Shakedownh, which riffed cop serials, the first feature by TV and video director Hiroyuki Nakano is a perilous exercise in tone, only half sending up the it trades on. Shot in B&W (gbecause it looks coolh per Nakano) with color inserts, and gaining much of its special flavor from a jazz/rock score by popular guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei, this will be a specialized, buff item in Western markets and has already won raves from aficionados at festival showings.

Thought it calls itself gthe worldfs first rock enf roll samurai movieh, itfs really nothing of the sort, and takes a while to establish the fact that it is a satire of genre as well as a postmodern representation. After a striking credit sequence, the film starts gradually and, given that the whole thing is done in straight-faced style, demands a reasonable knowledge of classic samurai movies for the jokes to work.
Set in 1696, when the Shogunfs samurai (warrior administrators) held the peace in a previously divided country, plot focuses on Inukai (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), the stupid, short-fused son of a hereditary counsellor, who returns from marital arts training in the capital to his clanfs residence. When the clanfs treasure, a sword, is stolen by Kazamatsuri (composer Hotei), a warrior hired to protect it, Inukai sets out with two ronin pals, Kurosawa and Suzuki \ yep, itfs that kind of movie \ to get it back.
Alas, Kazamatsuri makes short shrift of the three tyro swordsters, and the wounded Inukai recovers at the mountain home of the aged Mizoguchi (Morio Kazama) and his cute daughter, the spunky but dutiful Koharu (Tamaki Ogawa). While Inukai regains his health, and Mizoguchi preaches restraint and pacifism, Kazamatsuri has taken work as a bodyguard for a sexy gambling queen, Okatsu (Mari Natsuki), in a nearby town. Itfs only a matter of time before I. and K. meet for a final face-off by a deep gorge.
Therefs not a single character or plot development that isnft hewn from standard samurai movies and fiction \ even Mizoguchi and Koharu arenft quite what they seem at first \ but helmer Nakano lets those jokes play themselves, without any heavy underlining. And apart from some bumbling ninjas who keep dropping down into the frame, the action sequences are also played without pratfalls and with considerable elegance. The commanding Hotei and smoldering Natsuki are particularly good here.
Much of the rest humor comes from samurai acting in unexpected, slightly wacky ways, with Nakano turning around the established codes of the genre. In one of the picfs two codas, the audience is wittily updated on what became of the various characters. Highlighting the funky tone is Hoteifs music score, which mixes cool jazz, rock and plangent bass guitar in a memorable soundtrack.
Tech credits on the movie, released locally last August are solid on what looks like a modest budget. For the record, the movie is billed on-screen as gSF Episode Oneh, purportedly the first in a series of pics by Nakano all with two-word titles whose initials are gSh and gFh.

(C)PONYCANYON