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Rurouni Kenshin

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2012
  • 135 mins
  • 35mm
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2013

“Fluid and furious swordplay… solid blockbuster entertainment… as cool and exciting as samurai movies get” - Gabriel Chong, MOVIEXCLUSIVE

The Imperialist victory in the decisive battle of Toba-Fushime ushered in a new era for Japan, the Meiji Restoration. It opened the island nation’s doors to the modern world of the late 19th Century — though for the ruthless assassin Hitokiri Battousai (Takeru Sato, a veteran of the Kamen Rider franchise), it was the moment he chose to close the door on his bloodsoaked past. His abandoned sword, however, found a mysterious and malevolent new owner…

A decade later, the former killer has taken the new name of Himura Kenshin and now wanders the countryside, his backward-bladed sword a symbol of his devotion to justice and refusal to take any more lives. It’s peace he seeks, but when he settles his watchful eye on the dojo of lovely, strong-willed Kamiya Kaoru — whose father’s school of swordsmanship elevated pacifism above all values — it is strife and treachery that find him. The new era has proven very profitable for the evil-hearted crime boss Takeda (a seething Teruyuki Kagawa, of 20TH CENTURY BOYS fame), who has ambitious plans to spread opium addiction throughout the land. When the young woman with a precious, secret recipe for opium production flees Takeda’s clutches, the villain unleashes his cadre of killers — including the demonic slayer who claimed Kenshin’s sword!

Among the flagship series found in the pages of Shonen Jump, Japan’s leading manga magazine, is Nobuhiro Watsuki’s Rurouni Kenshin, known on these shores as Samurai X. Over an intricately recreated backdrop of Japan in a time of great historical change, Keishi Otomo’s live-action adaptation stirs up an engaging tale full of memorable characters, and delivers a constant barrage of exceedingly wild and dynamic combat scenes. Action choreographer Kenji Tanigaki, the only Japanese member of the Hong Kong Stuntmen Association, has previously worked his magic on 2011’s WU XIA, and more than rises to the occasion here. Among the most action-packed pictures screening at Fantasia this year, RUROUNI KENSHIN is one fans of slick, slice-’em-up samurai cinema won’t want to miss, particularly with a sequel already in the works!

— Rupert Bottenberg