• Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: June 10, 2014
    Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
    Cast: Mitsuki Koja, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Masanori Mimoto
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie

    Bushido Man is the latest from Japanese director Takanori Tsujimoto (Monster Killer, Hard Revenge, Milly: Bloody Battle). The film was originally released in North America by Shout! Factory as a web series, and the first five chapters of the film were split into individual episodes and distributed for free on YouTube. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release of Bushido Man: Seven Deadly Battles, collects the five previously available episodes and includes the rest of this wild and unpredictable martial arts movie.

    Actor/Producer Mitsuki Koga (Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) stars in Bushido Man as Toramaru, a martial arts master who is returning home after a year of traveling across Japan. Torumaru follows a martial arts discipline known as the Cosmic Way, and seeks mastery over all the known fighting techniques. He spent the past year traveling throughout Japan fighting seven masters of martial arts, learning their ways, and obtaining a sacred scroll as proof of his mastery. Torumaru returns to his sensei, Master Gensai (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi), and tells him of the seven deadly battles he fought across the country. The film follows Torumaru's progress as he travels to different locations, fights the seven masters, and eats a lot of food.

    The setup for Bushido Man is straightforward except for one curious detail: before each battle Torumaru gets to know his opponent's fighting style by eating their favorite meal. For example, before fighting the master of Kung Fu, Torumaru eats a meal of ramen noodles and pot stickers. As Torumaru eats, Gensai tries to guess what connection the meal has to the next battle. Sometimes this connection takes the form of a pun or a play on words. It's very strange, but it's all part of the fun and adds to the uniquely Japanese flavor of Bushido Man.

    Aside from the mouth-watering scenes of Torumaru eating delicious Asian cuisine, Bushido Man is all about the action. There is very little bloodshed and aside from one brief moment of dismemberment, which I won't describe because I don't want to spoil the film's most bizarre weapon of choice, Bushido Man relies on the choreography to make its impact. As Torumaru, Mitsuki Koga impresses with his ability to switch between multiple fighting styles throughout the film, and in the final act, switching from one fighting stance to another within the same scene. When it's not being intentionally goofy and comedic, the fight choreography is excellent, and is supported by some really exciting and technically proficient cinematography. The innovative camerawork elevates and intensifies the action, making what could feel repetitive seem fresh with each new fight. Each deadly battle is set in a different location across Japan, and as such, each sequence has a unique sense of direction to accompany the different fighting style represented.

    Bushido Man is filmed with a level of boundless energy and low-budget innovation reminiscent of Ryûhei Kitamura's cult-hit, Versus (2000). There aren't any zombies, or super zombies, in Bushido Man, but it has the same gonzo spirit as Versus, and it manages to make the most of a limited budget by filming a lot of one-on-one fights in breathtaking outdoor locales across Japan. Despite the episodic format of the movie it never feels like the film is repeating itself or trying to wow the viewer with the same tricks, and in the final twenty minutes the film seriously amps up the film's insanity factor with a post-apocalyptic Yokohama, gun-arms, and a Japanese cowboy named “Pistol Billy.”

    Audio/Video/Extras

    For a low-budget film that was originally released as a web series on YouTube, Bushido Man looks brilliant in 1080p on this MPEG-4 AVC encoded Blu-ray from Shout! Factory. The film is presented in 1.78:1 which is a slight change from its original 1.85:1 aspect ration but it isn't noticeably cropped. The picture presentation is very good overall. Colors look natural, bright and vivid. The film does appear to use a lot of bloom during especially light scenes, but it seems to be a stylistic choice more than anything. Overall there's a lot of fine detail in both wide shots and close-ups, and the picture quality is very clear and crisp when it's not overwhelmed by bloom effects.

    For its audio presentation, Bushido Man features three options: Japanese Stereo PCM, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English Stereo PCM. It's a bit of a disappointment that Shout! Factory chose to only provide a 5.1 audio option for the English dub, which is okay as far as English dubs go but the voice actors lack the enthusiasm that the Japanese cast bring to their dialogue. The upside is that it's a really nice sounding audio track that uses the full dynamic range of a 5.1 setup. My personal preference is to watch the film with the Japanese Linear PCM audio, which is well-balanced across the 5.1 setup, features a nice level of audio detail, and maintains the Japanese flavor of the actor's performances.

    The only extra is a brief Making-Of featurette, which is mostly a series of outtakes and footage from the movie's first international screening at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.

    The Final Word

    If you need a deep story to go along with your martial arts action, then you're bound to be disappointed by Bushido Man's barely-there narrative, but fans of old-school martial arts films or offbeat Japanese productions like Versus, Machine Girl and RoboGeisha should get a kick out of this fun and quirky release from Shout! Factory.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!