• Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 (Well Go USA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Well Go USA
    Released on: March 2nd, 2021.
    Director: Yûji Shimomura
    Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Yousuke Saito, Ben Hiura, Fuka Hara, Tak Sakaguchi
    Year: 2021
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    Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 – Movie Review:

    Director Yûji Shimomura's 2020 film Crazy Samurai Musashi (which has been retitled Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 for its North American release by distributor Well Go USA) starts with a scene where a young man, a kid and an old man talk. They're preparing for the arrival of a rogue samurai who wishes to do away with them, but take confidence in the fact that they've got three-hundred of their own samurai and an additional one-hundred mercenaries there to back them up.

    Eight-minutes later, Musashi Miyamoto (Tak Sakaguchi) shows up and the kid and the old man are dead, leaving the other four-hundred swordsman to talk him down. The next seventy-seven-minutes is one giant fight scene, with Musashi taking on all opponents, breaking only a few times to drink from some strategically placed water reservoirs or pick up a new sword. And it's all done in one take.

    And that's about it as far as the story goes. A reasonably plotless affair, Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 plays out very much like a video game, with the brief breaks that Musashi takes to recharge feeling very much like cut scenes and the occasion where he goes up against one foe instead of twenty or more feeling very much like his taking on a level boss. Those going into this expecting much of a story may be disappointed. There are a couple of twists here and there during the fight but it is what it is – over an hour’s worth of swordplay and little else. The opening and closing sequences wrap it up well enough, in that these scenes give the giant fight a reason to exist, but there’s no depth and no character development here at all.

    That said, if you go into this with proper expectations, the movie is pretty fun. Again, no depth. Let’s repeat that again… no depth. But if you don’t mind the wafer thin story, it’s interesting to see how the camerawork, which is quite frenetic and often looks to have been handheld, captures the action without needing to break for an edit (it really does appear to have been all done in one take). Sakaguchi, to his credit, looks legitimately exhausted in the last half of the fight, and you’ve got to figure those breaks that were scheduled into the epic fight weren’t done just for the character’s benefit but for the actor’s as well. He handles himself well, still very much using that natural sense of ultra-cool that made him a star when Versus hit to give Musashi a very similar vibe to the character he played in that movie.

    It’s also fun to see how often the same guys show up to get slaughtered. Keep an eye on one actor with a noticeable rip in his outfit and a series of whites spots that look like dust or paint on the back of his kimono – this poor bastard shows up and gets killed at least fifteen times! Production values are okay if not remarkable. The score and sound effects work well enough but the CGI blood is poorly done (to be fair, it would have been virtually impossible to use practical effects and still do it all in one take – which kind of begs the questions… why do it in one take? But I digress…) and the swords that are used look more like wood spraypainted with sliver paint than proper shining steel, but the locations and wardrobe are pretty decent.

    Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 – Blu-ray Review:

    Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 comes to Region A Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taking up 21.4GBs of space on a 25GB disc. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, the opening and closing sequences look much cleaner and clearer than the bulk of the film as they were clearly shot under better conditions. These sequences look great. The rest of the film looks a bit soft and sometimes under or overexposed. This was shot digitally so there’s no damage or dirty to complain about. Detail is decent enough but never amazing. The disc is well-authored though, there aren’t really any compression issues to gripe about.

    The main option is a Japanese language 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track with optional English subtitles. An optional Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is also provided. The 5.1 mix spreads out the score and effects well enough but uses the front channels frequently and the rear channels considerably less often. This means the mix is fine, but that it doesn’t quite surround you the way you might want it to, given how frequently we’re in the action with Musashi. The subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read.

    Extras are limited to U.S. and international trailers for the feature, previews for a few other Well Go USA properties, menus and chapter selection. As far as packaging goes, this release comes with a slipcover. There really should have been a behind the scenes documentary here as it probably would have been really interesting to see how this was made, but that didn’t happen.

    Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 - The Final Word:

    Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 is an interesting, if flawed, achievement that is worth seeing if you’ve got an interest in filmmaking, have an affinity for Tak Sakaguchi or like watching people play video games (because that’s what watching this movie is like). It has entertainment value to be sure and while the whole ‘one take’ thing doesn’t necessarily make for a better film, it does make it visually unique. Well Go USA’s Blu-ray is disappointingly light on extras but it does offer a nice presentation for this quirky, low budget affair.

    Click on the images below for full sized Crazy Samurai 400 Vs. 1 Blu-ray screen caps!