Azumi (NR)

Action/Adventure 128 July 28, 2006
Have we gotten over being depressed by the dilutive impact CGIs have had on the martial arts universe, a movie realm that had been uniquely ruled by physical capability, gravity, athletic grace, and sleight of hand? There's hardly a point to this internationally beloved genre if the action displayed only happened on someone's hard drive. But the Crouching Tiger demon is loose -- and popular; even genre pope Tsui Hark, with his unwatchably gumdroppy Zu Warriors (2001), has gone the way of all pixels. Ryuhei Kitamura's Azumi, released in 2003, is a prime sample, a kind of Buffy the Warlord Slayer in which a petite, mini-skirted assassin (Japanese pop starlet Aya Ueto) and her friends prevent war by taking down the warmongers. Take them down they do -- based on a manga, Azumi is exhaustively gory. Blood flies like water-park spray, limbs hack off like chicken wings, and the characters weep sugar tears. If it weren't for the carnage, it could've been an ad for Claritin.
Ryuhei Kitamura Aya Ueto, Shun Oguri, Hiroki Narimiya, Kenji Kohashi, Takatoshi Kaneko, Yuma Ishigaki, Yasuomi Sano, Shinji Suzuki, Eita Nagayama, Shogo Yamaguchi Isao Kiriyama, Yu Koyama, Rikiya Mizushima Mataichiro Yamamoto AsiaVision

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