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U.S. DVD cover by Media Blasters

Japanese Fantasy Samurai film part of the "Duel Project"

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Ryuhei Kitamura's Mystical Jidai Geki Feature Exudes PURE Entertainment!

  • Apr 9, 2009

Made as part of the DUEL project along with Yukihiki Tsutsumi‘s 2LDK, the famed project had certain limiting rules that applied to both films:

1) Both films will only be shot, edited, in a measly 7 days, under a very small budget.

2) Both films would be limited to an enclosed space with a limited running time--one room, one setting.

3) There will be a Limit of three major characters. (onscreen)

4) One character has to die.

Ryuhei Kitamura's highly entertaining experimental film; "ARAGAMI" was produced together with Tsutsumi's film under those rules. The famed director responsible for such acclaimed hits such as "Versus" and the award-winning film "Azumi". Aragami and 2LDK are films very different and also very similar. They both have a witty, simplistic charm that revolves around a claustrophobic feel and exciting action. Kitamura was said to have written this film while he was filming "Azumi"--the resulting film further cements his claim to be one of Japan's foremost director's in samurai action films.


Two samurai warriors end up outside a creepy temple in the woods and are met by a very beautiful woman (Kanae Uotani, The Messenger). Both are badly wounded because of a great battle. One of them would awaken (Takao Osawa) and find all his wounds healed. Greeted by his supposed "savior" (Masaya Kato, Fighter in the Wind) and his female companion, the surviving samurai is now forced to repay his debt by engaging the man who had saved his life in a battle to the death. His "savior" is a supposed warrior who had lived for a long time, and he is longing to be defeated in battle. But only the greatest warrior may overcome this "tengu" in battle….


Those familiar with Ktamura's work will no doubt be pleased with this film. "Aragami" may have a very different atmosphere and the familiar approach of the acclaimed director is so visible in the film's screenplay. As such, the film almost generates a feeling of nostalgia for his fans--the sword used by one of the main combatants in "Versus" is even used by our mysterious character and cult favorite Tak Sakaguchi (Death Trance) even makes a cemeo appearance. "Aragami" is so full of momentum, and unbelievably simple--mindless entertainment can be a real treat when done right. The film has two elements that work well: its dialogue and action--made to mesh real well in pace, it succeeds in taking the viewer to a mythical and almost enchanted world.

It is to be duly noted that it was wise for Kitamura to utilize the services of his usual film crew. The very cool camerawork by Takumi Furuya is impressively executed with his usual familiar signature shots. I was impressed as to how Kitamura and company managed to make the temple a character in itself--the colors were restrained but the grayish earthly colors gave the setting a lot of personality and mood. I do believe that this was done intentionally to give emphasis to the costumes worn by our characters; which were very simple but elaborate. It was nice to see the two conversing characters wearing similar colors with the mysterious woman who wore a very nice purple and white kimono. It gave the threesome an almost mythic persona that borders on being magical and mysteriously seductive--almost like the "Twilight Zone". The musical score by Nobuhiko Morino adds and complements the film's energetic atmosphere; it sounded like a wild blend of Japanese traditional music and almost techno-like beat. The atmosphere just feels so fucking right for a duel to the death.

scene with the woman

"Aragami" has a lot of dialogue but not one scene is wasted. It practices a simple pace: sit, eat, fight, drink, drink again, fight--but it doesn't feel repetitive. The film is short at 80 minutes but honestly it felt a little longer because of the touches of humor, an interesting script that serves to develop the characters and attained a needed stroke of maturity. After all, any fight fest will have to have a great set-up otherwise it would feel unnecessary. I loved the part when our "tengu" gave hints to our mysterious woman's background (Kanae Uotani is so beautiful). The sequence when they looked at their possible weapons were also a stroke of clever calculation on Kitamura‘s part--it exuded an almost child-like playful scenario. The needed dialogue established the groundwork as to why, who, and how our characters are related. It gives a needed amount of credibility as to why they need to fight.


Our two actors don't really have a martial arts background so Kitamura had to pull some editing tricks to make them look good and makes them look convincing that the two are real samurai warriors well-versed in the workings of the swordplay. The fight scenes are kept compact with the shot following the action with some use of "shaky" camera work but fortunately, it didn‘t look sloppy or overdone. The fight sequences looked very cool, with the posturing exuding pure machismo. It had the dangerous potential to be overly flashy but Kitamura manages to keep the fight scenes grounded; the results looked very precise, stylish and full of finesse. Lighting effects and atmosphere played a vital part in the film's fight sequences which I've read that it may have been nominated for "fight scene of the year".

Ryuhei Kitamura's "Aragami" may not be wholly original--but given the fact that the film was shot and edited in a measly seven days with a very small budget, Damn, the man is one awesome director to pull off this kind of quality filmmaking in a week. "Aragami" wins over the darkly satirical "2LDK" hands down, although I also equally like both films. This film will no doubt entertain and engage its audience; with its well-rounded script, cool atmosphere and excellently edited fight sequence--its main reward is its journey.

Highly Recommended! [4 ½ Stars] props for being this good in just 7 days.

Anyone wants me to review "2LDK"?

Here's a preview:

Watch Aragami [eng sub] in Action & Adventure  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com



poster scene dvd cover scenes scene scene with the woman

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February 27, 2012
Excellent review WP.
April 14, 2009
Excellent review. Just enough information without giving away too many spoilers. ... I agree with you. Between ARAGAMI and 2LDK, I'd say this is the winner, but that doesn't take away from the awesomeness of 2LDK. I own this movie and watch it a few times per year. Kudos to Kitamura. ;-)
April 14, 2009
Thanks! I am with you. Aragami just had that more professional, meticulous look--he does have the better staff I think. I do plan on also reviewing 2LDK real soon. My intention was to combine the two together but that may take some doing. Kitamura is one hell of a director! Eagerly awaiting "Versus 2"...
April 14, 2009
Ahh, I didn't know there was going to be a Versus 2. I enjoyed the original. ... I'll look forward to your review of 2LDK.
October 13, 2009
2LDK is also reviewed and posted.
More ARAGAMI, The Raging God of Bat... reviews
review by . January 17, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Originally, I found out about this movie after watching 2LDK a couple pf months ago and found out about this challenge. I thought it was an interesting concept and would like to see how some of today's American directors could tackle such a project. Although I liked 2LDK, Aragami was simply the better movie. At times, the style and dialog (or lack of) reminded me of something Tarantino would do.    The very basic plot is that Aragami (Masaya Kato), who, incidentally, is the God …
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About this movie


Fleeing from enemies, two wounded samurai arrive at a mysterious old temple in a remote location in the mountains. Unable to walk any further, they collapse from exhaustion. One awakens to find himself miraculously healed. His mysterious host tells him the legend of a Japanese goblin that is said to reside in the mountains dining on the flesh of men. He goes on to reveal himself as the demon "Aragami." And Challenges the Samurai to a duel. Wishing to end his own seemingly invincible existence, an existence without sleep or dreams, with a battle against a worthy opponent. The only way for the Samurai to leave the temple is to destroy Aragami.
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Director: Ryûhei Kitamura
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: March 27, 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Shôichirô Masumoto
DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
Runtime: 78 minutes
Studio: DUEL Film Partners
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