Aragami (2003)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Samurai Film, Supernatural Thriller  |   Release Date - Mar 27, 2003 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 71 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Todd Kristel

The first hour of this movie consists primarily of a deliberately paced dinner conversation, which may surprise viewers expecting another splatterfest from Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura. It is not an ordinary conversation, however, since the participants are Aragami (Masay Kato), a seemingly invincible goblin with a human appearance, and the samurai (Takao Osawa) that he intends to fight to the death. Kitamura does a good job of balancing creepiness and humor to keep this part of the film interesting. He slowly builds the tension through the interplay between the two characters until they're ready for the extended duel in the latter part of the film. The weapons selection scene is quite amusing and the battle itself is tightly paced and imaginatively choreographed. The lighting is also interesting, particularly when the room is blacked out and the battle is illuminated only by the flash created by clashing swords. Other aspects of the film such as makeup are also first rate. The movie's final scene is a bit silly, but otherwise this is an entertaining offering.