• Revenge (Adauchi)

    Released By: Animeigo
    Released On: 05/17/2011
    Director: Tadashi Imai
    Cast: Kinnosuke Nakamura, Yoshiko Mita, Eitaro Shindo, Takahiro Tamura

    The Film:

    Modern conveniences are a wonderful thing. If it gets too warm outside, you can kick on the air conditioning until icicles form on the ceiling fan. If you need to get a hold of a friend in an emergency, you can phone, email, text, or instant message. A lot sure has changed in the past few hundred years; today, for example, you can joke with somebody about the lack of “spear polishing” going on in their house and get a hearty laugh in response. Back in the days of the shogun, however, this was likely to cause a conflict of catastrophic proportions.

    Which leads us to Tadashi Imai’s film Revenge (Adauchi). Shinpachi, a young samurai, finds himself in an illegal duel after being challenged by Magodayu, an officer who doesn’t like Shinpachi’s comments about the aforementioned spear polishing taking place in his home. As duels between samurai are forbidden by the village elders, Magodayu issues the challenge in secret, confident that he will be victorious and his status and rank will clear him of any wrong-doing. Unfortunately, his swordsmanship is not up to snuff, and he gets his ass handed to him by the younger and less fortunate Shinpachi. With the news of the illegal duel becoming an embarrassment to the elders of the village, they spread the word that both combatants are clearly insane, and banish Shinpachi to the monastery outside of the village.

    With their face-saving measure in place, the elders are confident that the matter is behind them and forgotten until Magodayu’s younger brother decides to avenge his brother. Vowing to cut the banished Shinpachi in two, “like a rabid dog”, Shume’s plans are dashed to pieces when he exhibits about as much skill with his blade as his older brother did. At this point, you would think that Magodayu’s family would hang up their weapons and recognize that Shinpachi’s fighting skill clearly outranks his lower class status, but Tensunosuke, the youngest brother of Magodayu and Shume, decides that he will be the one to exact revenge for his fallen brothers.

    Revenge is an interesting film that falls outside of the typical samurai genre in a number of ways, the primary reason being that it is far from action-filled. Instead, it concentrates more on dialogue, and commenting on the hypocrisy of the Bushido-following village elders, who allow their code of ethics to be broken and actively encourage the manipulation of these ethics when it suits them. While it does make for a slightly different cinematic experience, it suffers from some horrendous pacing issues. In addition, what should be a character-driven drama lacks any real form of character development, something that can mainly be attributed to the confusion caused by the number of flashbacks in the film. In modern day filmmaking, a flashback may be illustrated by soft focus, colour change, or some kind of lens effect leading into it; here, we basically have black and white throughout, and essentially the same characters. This is definitely not a fault of the acting, which is top-notch across the board.

    Revenge has been called a masterpiece by a number of people who are probably more well-versed in this genre than I, but overall, I found it more lacking than the Kurosawa-branded samurai epics that I am accustomed to.


    Revenge comes to DVD from AnimEigo in a decent 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer that is a step up from some of the bootleg quality earlier releases, and a 2.0 Dolby Digital audio track. The picture is adequate, but tends to look washed out and lacking in contrast during some sequences, and the occasional artifacts pop up during some of the darker scenes. Overall, however, the picture is suitable, and the 2.0 track carries the dialogue rather well, with only slight issues.

    The subtitles are offered in some different colours, and also available with a “Cultural Explanations” option which details some of the references from the dialogue in the film, such as the measurements discussed in one scene.

    There are a few extra features included on the disc as well; first up are the Program Notes, which are slides of text explaining some of the cultural dialogue contained in the film, not to be confused with the “Cultural Explanations” option in the subtitles.

    There are also 3 thorough Biographies included, for star Kinnosuke Nakamura, Writer Shinobu Hahsimoto, and Director Tadashi Imai.

    A Still Gallery of over 40 images from the film and a few slides of poster art, as well as Two Trailers round out the extra features.

    The Final Word:

    While it’s not my cup of tea, Revenge does have its fans out there….they would do well to pick up this release, a step up from previous releases with some pretty informative extras to boot.

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I liked this one more than you I think. Agreed on the pacing issues but I felt the pay off was worth it.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I generally like my samurai more slashy than this. Truth be told, I think that chronological storyline wouldve helped this one immensely. Not a bad film by any means, though...I would, however, hesitate to slap the "masterpiece" tag on it that I've seen floating about.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      People keep busting my balls about the paws. :-(