Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Movie Review - Rurouni Kenshin - The Legend Ends

  So Samurai X, er, Rurouni Kenshin is brought to life, er, live action; from manga to anime to the big screen.  Fans have been waiting for the ending of the two-parter though newcomers would be confused.  There are no introductions or explanations as it is expected that the viewer has watched the first part.  Even Sanosuke, one of the main characters, is not named by the subtitles, though you can hear his nickname during conversations in Japanese (noticed during the ending sequence).

  The beginning of the movie has a lot of build up, resulting in a very slow pace and scattered focus as many characters needed to be touched upon.  It eventually takes a furious turn when swords come into play, the high point being the encounters on the ship.  

   There are changes from the anime, considering how multiple episodes are condensed into one film.  Certain sequences were removed to cut for time, which is a shame but forgivable. The final battle was altered drastically, though certain elements were still retained.  But all throughout the swordplay, the spectacular display of physicality is jaw-dropping.  Live action should not be able to compare to the impossible feats done in animation but seeing approximate moves done in the flesh is quite impressive.  To note would be how filthy the characters get.  Anime somehow cleans up the mess better, glamorizing the blood and dirt.  Seeing the true counterparts of the anime also solidifies the interpretation of how the official cosplay costumes should look like.

  To the audience unfamiliar with the series, the plodding pace of the beginning needs to be endured before reaching the furious action scenes.  Fans would just eat everything up.  Either way, marvel at the well-choreographed duels and well-executed feats of swordplay.

And now for the fun part.  Samurai X-Men!  SPOILERS!  Don't read below if you haven't seen the movie or Shishio will get burning mad!

  One would catch hell from purists for calling Rurouni Kenshin by its English adaptation name but how else could we have a crossover such as Samurai X-Men?  Himura Kenshin always encounters individuals with specific skill sets or signature moves or specialized techniques to the point of considering them having superpowers.  So what happens when he has to fight against the original five X-Men?

1.  Beast
   Sano does the preliminary fight, meeting the furry Hank McCoy who is muttering to himself.
   "This scenario doesn't compute as the variables in play do not coincide with previous or current terms in the timeline progression plus the fourth wall debris should not result in temporal displacement, not accounting for automatic language translation..."
   "What are you mumbling about?"
   "I am simply rationalizing the irrational circumstance that thrusted my colleagues and I in our present predicament.  I believe that we are under the influence of a powerful, interdimensional force, overriding our natural mindsets..."
   "Sounds like a whole lot of religious mumbo-jumbo.  Look, I don't know what you believe in but I've fought Christians before and I've fought Buddhist monks too but it's the first time I'm fighting an actual monkey so you better say your prayers!"
   "I beg your pardon!  For that insult, I will set aside my meta level musing to administer a beatdown that you so richly deserve!"
   "Now you're talking my language!"
  Sano and the Beast engage in brutal combat but the mutant is resistant to Sano's devastating punches and soon has him in a grappler hold.
   "I have you in my clutches!  You can't escape my bear hug, though it should be termed a mutant hug of sorts, not saying that I don't fit the bear classification though I was more feline in one incarnation..."
   "What about this?"
   "What substance is this?  The oil is interfering with my natural tactile follicle state!  Traction is rendered difficult!"
   Sanno slides out of the Beast's grasp and watches as the mutant slips and bangs his head on the metal pot he's holding.
   "I didn't even need a banana peel."

2.  Iceman
  Kenshin meets Bobby Drake, the cryonic teenager.
   "It is a shame that one so young must be pressed into violence."
   "Just because I'm the youngest X-Man doesn't mean I'm any less dangerous than my teammates."
   "I do not begrudge your age or your skill.  But why do you keep clutching your head?"
   "I've... I've got a wicked case of an ice cream headache.  Something doesn't feel right."
   "Perhaps you should lie down and center yourself."
   "Did you just insult me?  I don't understand Japanese but I'll let you know that since I'm an accountant, you're definitely going down for the count!"
   Kenshin skillfully deflects or evades Iceman's frosty projectiles as they race across the ship deck.  The samurai takes advantage of  Iceman's ice slides, actually matching the mutant's speed with his blinding footwork.  He gets in close and raps Bobby on the head with his reverse edge sword.
  "Ow!  What'd you do that for?!"
   "Your focus is off.  I know you are not in the proper mental state for a fight.  You should rest."
   "Don't make me think too much!  This brain freeze... It's getting to me... guh!"
   Iceman collapses as Kenshin sheathes his sword and leaves.

3.  Archangel
   Kenshin is greeted by a barrage of metal shrapnel flying at him at high speeds.  Warren Worthington's ability to fly is limited in the confines of the ship but he can still use his razor feathers to great effect. 
   "It's not a gatling gun but my wing blades are more than money can buy and so much better!  You can't dodge me forever!  What good is that Hiten Mitsurugi Flying Heaven whatever technique to an Angel who touches the skies?  Feel the might of American progress!  Haha!"
   "That's enough."
   "What?  Shishio, I mean Shiclops, I mean, Cyclops?  What gives?"
   "You leave him to me."
   "Oh c'mon!  I've been managing all the political and business side of things here; I never get to tussle with anyone."
   "You can handle the funny one."
   "Who?  What?  No, not in the face!  Not my beautiful, handsome visage that won me so many conquests!  NOOO!"
   The avenging Archangel was too unwieldy and self-obsessed to avoid Sano's unexpected punch to the nose.
4.  Cyclops
   Kenshin faces down the leader of the X-Men, though he cannot look him in the eye.  Scott Summer's ruby quartz visor glows red with solar fueled power.
   "Your reign of terror is over."
   "Huh?  That's what I was going to say."
   "You mean you're not terrorizing these poor townspeople?"
   "No, I thought that's what you were doing.  Perhaps we should talk this out peacefully."
   "I agree.  War is never the answer."
   "I agree..."
   "Sano, you idiot!  We weren't going to fight anymore!".  "VENGEANCEVENGEANCEVENGEANCEVENGEANCE!!!"
   "Aoshi!  I dealt with you already! Stop butting in!".  "POLICEPOLICEPOLICEPOLICEPOLICE!"
   "Saito?  You too?  C'mon!"
   The misunderstanding has Cyclops beset on all sides.  He burns quickly through his energy reserves using his eye beams concussively and he strives to defend himself from all quarters, though Kenshin is caught in the chaotic skirmish.
   "Ow!  You bit me!"
   "Sorry!  I didn't mean it!  It was in the heat of the moment."
  Eventually, Cyclops succeeds in incapacitating the three interlopers, leaving him exhausted and almost powerless at the foot of the samurai.
   "What was that all about?"
   "I don't know.  It's like they went crazy.  Or were they?"

5.  Jean Grey
   The beautiful telekinetic flies through the air and lowers herself to stand between her teammate and the samurai.
   "You, Battosai the Slasher.  You will stay away from Cyclops.  It is me that you will face."
   "Jean?  What are you doing?  It's all just been some sort of mistake."
   "My name is not Jean."
   "What do you mean... no.  NO!"
   "I am the Phoenix!  I have taken over the body of Jean Grey and orchestrated this whole debacle, taking over the minds of certain individuals, as a testament to my great power."
   "You did all this?  The war?  And devastation?"
   "Yes, now you know the destructive nature of the Phoenix! Dare you face me, mortal?  All this training, all these encounters, all this bloodshed has led to this glorious moment."
   "What do you mean?"
   "You must kill me."
   "The bloody tale of Battosai the Slasher is long renowned.  By your skilled hand may the cycle of the Phoenix be broken, before the Dark Phoenix arises to lay waste to the entire cosmos.  I had become too human in this mortal shell and don't wish to harm anymore souls, especially my beloved Loga-, I mean, Scott."
   "I'm sorry for your troubles but... I cannot."
   "What are you saying?
   "I have sworn to no longer take lives, even yours."
   "I have read your mind and I see you speak true.  Well then, be the first to fall at the flames of the Dark Phoenix!  Let this mark the age of the inferno!  Prepare to embrace... oblivion!"
   A laser-thin beam pierces through Jean Grey's heart from behind, the blast striking Kenshin's chest as well.  Cyclops has fatally shot his fellow X-Man.
   "Kenshin, are you ok?  I couldn't get an angle without hitting you too."
   "I... I'm fine.  What of her?"
   Cyclops carries the mortally wounded Jean Grey up the stairs.
   "I'm sorry, Jean.  I had no choice."
   "I'm glad... that you understand.  Better you than a random automated gun or a foreign swordsman."
   "You could have picked a different setting to pull off your elaborate suicide though.  Like in an alien world or something."
   "I'm sorry... but I wanted sushi for my final meal."
   "Oh yeah, that was actually pretty good.  All right, it was a good decision to use Japan as the final battleground."
   "I'm glad...I was finally useful in battle..."
   And so Jean Grey the Phoenix dies (or not).  There is much crying and drama to be had.
   "Hey, this is my movie, y'know.  What are you going to do about all the damage?"
   "We'll get Warren to pay for everything.  He's a billionaire.  Say, that X mark on your cheek means you have the necessary qualities to be a member of the X-Men."
  "Shouldn't you highlight my prodigious sword skills?"
   "No.  The X mark is good enough.  So what do you say?  You get a spiffy uniform."
   "Thanks but no thanks!  You guys are all freaks!"


   "Ugh, I got shot by a one-eyed monster.  Cyclops, you're a dick."

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