Synopsis by Mark Deming
Love draws a young samurai into an allegiance with a woman steeped in evil in this historical fantasy set in 19th Century Japan. A wise and seasoned professional swordsman (Atsuro Watabe) is leading a band of younger charges through Edo when they encounter a pack of demonic creatures. Jaku (Takashi Naito), the master swordsman's second in command, and Izumo (Somegoro Ichikawa), a novice fighter with more passion than restraint, lose control while attacking the beasts and Izumo accidentally takes the life of a beautiful young woman. The girl's spirit returns in the body of Tsubaki (Rie Miyazawa), a lovely and skilled acrobat who sometimes steals to support herself and has magical abilities she had not yet learned to fully control. When Izumo meets Tsubaki, he immediately falls in love with her, and sets out to uncover the truth about her dark talents. However, Izumo discovers she's not an ordinary magician when Tsubaki takes the throne of the Queen of Darkness, and Jaku steps forward to save his comrade from the spell of the beautiful but sinister young woman. Ashura (aka Ashura-Jo No Hitomi) received its American premiere at the 2005 Hawaii Film Festival.