Azumi 2: Death or Love Reviews
The violence and overall aesthetic is less cartoony than its predecessor, but it's got more gimmicky ninja enemies and tricksy wire stunts - not that this is a bad thing. It also has a deeper, more engaging story with more intrigue, and the central character is fleshed out a lot more, being forced into an existential quandary more pressing and more interesting than she went through last time. Ueto handles it all superbly, ensuring the film is always engrossing, whether people are getting hacked to pieces or not.
I must say I got the feeling this film may have been one big long film that was cut into two on purpose, the whole thing filmed in one go. The continuity is very good with both plot and certain actors returning and you do get a fairly epic feeling in the scope of things. Aya Ueto in the lead is still cute as hell while Tak Sakaguchi seems to be in every modern Japanese flick with any hint of action.
To be honest the film isn't entirely different from the first in the terms of what happens. Its more sword slashing, blood spurting and many similar yet nicely created characters, it also visually appears identical to the first hence why I think it was all made at the same time. Not exactly worthy of an epic award but certainly well made with some grand action sequences to please the eye.
Like all Japanese Samurai/ninja films it has a lovely period feel to the proceedings with small segments of fantasy or myth. These do add to the charm of the film but also take away from it. The story is based on a manga comic but there are so many of these adaptations from Japan you do get a strong sense of deja vu half the time.
The main plus points in this film (like many other films from the land of the rising sun) are the characters. Big, bold, colourful, exciting, athletic and overflowing with emotions whilst the flash of their Katana's glint in the sun at you. The plot is pretty much the same old search for revenge, truth or justice motif with nothing really new to offer in terms of action but it does the job well.
- 'Azumi 2: Death or Love' is the 2005 sequel of the successful action film 'Azumi' from 2003. The story continues where the first movie had ended: the assassins have one warlord left on their death list. Again brutal katana-fights and colorful characters steal the show. This time some romance is added. With Aya Ueto returning as heroine Azumi and Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill, Battle Royale) as ninja Kozue. An epic conclusion of a great Japanese franchise.
With Nagamasa Asano and Kiyomasa Kato dead, the two remaining assassins, Azumi (Ueto) and Nagara, continue their quest to eliminate the third and final warlord, Masayuki Sanada. On their way they are guided by the playful ninja Kozue (Kuriyama) and meet a gang of thieves led by Ginkaku, a young man that resembles Azumi's deceased love-intrest Nachi. In the meantime, Kato's general Kabei has joined forces with Sanada, warning him about the two assassins. But Sanada has gathered his best forces: an army of heavily armed mercenaries, a pack of samurai fighters, the giant Roppa, the poisonous ninja Tsuchigumo and Sanada's concubine Kunio. Will Azumi and Nagara succeed in their mission?
+Ueto, Kuriyama, Endo
+ Awesome end shot
- Kaneko is a good director, but he's no Kitamura
- Too long
After the events of the first movie, the young assassin Azumi continues her mission to find and kill the last remaining warlord that seems determined to plunge feudal Japan back into war. She's accompanied by her last remaining companion, still haunted by the deaths of her friends, and sought by a vengeful warrior who wants her death above all things. Of course, she also finds new allies and hidden enemies on her journey.
This movie mirrors the plot of the first in many ways, but it's just not quite as good. The battles aren't as fun, and the story isn't as captivating. The attempts at poignancy and don't ring as true as the first movie, either.
Aya Ueto is still an irresistible heroine and I recommend to anyone who enjoyed the first movie that they should check this one out, too. Just keep in mind that the change in directors from the first movie was not exactly an improvement.