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GOEMON (Japan)

In Japanese dialogue with Chinese & English subtitles
Director: Kazuaki Kiriya
Cast: Yosuke Eguchi, Ryoko Hirosue, Takao Osawa, Jun Kaname , Tetsuji Tamayama, Hong Man Choi, Hashinosuke Nakamura, Susumu Terajima, Mikijiro Hira, Masatoh Ibu, Eiji Okuda
2 hrs 8 mins
Released By: InnoForm Media & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: NC-16
Official Website:

Opening Day: 25 February 2010


In 1582, the mighty warlord Nobunaga was betrayed by his retainer, Mitsuhide. The cruel Hideyoshi subjugated Mitsuhide’s warriors and took over as Ruler of the kingdom of Japan.

Master thief Goemon – the Japanese Robin Hood – steals a wooden box once owned by Mitsuhide. Hideyoshi’s men, including Lord Mitsunari and his legendary ninja Saizo, are after the box and Goemon finds himself fighting for his life. He discovers evidence inside the box of the secret pact between Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi to assassinate Nobunaga. This revelation would tear Japan apart. Moreover Nobunaga was like a father to Goemon – the betrayal could not be more personal.

Goemon enters Osaka Castle, intent on killing Hideyoshi, and finds the beautiful Princess Chacha. Hideyoshi’s guards attack, and it is only through the surprise intervention of Saizo that Goemon is saved.

As youths, Saizo and Goemon trained together under Nobunaga. Goemon was assigned as Princess Chacha’s bodyguard and fell in love. After their master’s death, Saizo chose duty and went to work for Mitsunari. Goemon chose freedom.
When Hideyoshi announces his plans to invade Korea and China, making clear his intention to drag Japan into decades of brutal warfare, Lord Ieyasu convinces Princess Chacha to become Hideyoshi’s concubine so that she can betray him – a painful decision as her heart belongs to Goemon. Hungry for power, Mitsunari orders Saizo to kill Hideyoshi.

Goemon and Saizo mount an incendiary attack on Hideyoshi’s ships, but Saizo is captured and later put to death. Goemon storms Osaka Castle, single-handedly killing most of Hideyoshi’s men in a breathtaking display of martial prowess, before slaying Hideyoshi and escaping with Chacha. But with Hideyoshi dead, the armies of Mitsunari and Ieyasu face off to determine the new ruler of Japan by force. Goemon must return to the battlefield one last time if he is to bring peace to his country…

Movie Review:

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." - Martin Luther King, Jr

Most movie reviews for Goemon would start by mentioning about the director Kazuaki Kiriya and his other movie Casshern. That's because in the span of two movies, the director had created an unique flair in making his movies and his visually stylish cinematography had became a rather instantly recognizable trademark. Beside that, both of his movies contain philosophical musing about wars.

Let's start with the most prominent trait of his trademark and that would be his style of visual treat for motion picture.

While others tend to use the blue/green screen special effects to create believable visuals that ease the tell tale sign of computer aids, Kazuaki Kiriya bask in the obvious usage of such effects and made it glorious in it's own rights. It's easy to tell that the environment that the actors performed in were mainly constructed by green screen effects. But yet the scenery and settings looked so grand and spectacular that the unnatural contrast between actors and special effects had an unique feel to it.

Another reason why this unnatural contrast of what's real and what's constructed look so good in Kazuaki Kiriya's films would be how he captures a sort of live action anime visualization with his cinematography. His films are almost a direct translation of Japanese animation (anime) into a live action film. That means in Goemon, you get Ninjas soaring to great heights and blazing at supersonice speed while looking (super anime) cool in it.

Beside that, Goemon (like Casshern) is filled with flashy and frequent costume changes that would rivial those seen in Star Wars the Phantom Menace and Chen Kaige's The Promise. It would seem that every time a character appear in a new scene, he or she will be dressed in exquisite costumes. Visually, Goemon is simply spectacular and mesmerizing.

Eye candies aside, Goemon is a continuation of Kazuaki Kiriya lambasting on war mongers and oppression. It takes bit of Robin Hood, Mel Gibson's Braveheart and Zhang Yimou's Hero and blend them into it's own tale. It brought out issues on why the oppressed could be helpless against despot even when they posses the ability to right the wrong. It deliberates on how the war mongers' greed are build on the commoners sufferings. It also has memorable moments of noble self sacrifice for the sake of the greater good and it works as an good construct to the Ishikawa Goemon mytho (a real life Japanese legendary bandit hero).

What Goemon lacks would be the building of a stronger cause of the protagonist and it's one too many climatic finish. There were too many climatic moments that felt like it was a good opportunity to end this story. It felt like the director had 3 good endings for this movie and tried to squeeze them into one. Those endings are good on their own but the linkage between them dragged the pace of story out and in it's own way, it derails various character buildup in this movie.

However compared to Casshern, the story for Goemon is more lighthearted and simple to follow. With a charismatic lead actor, a beautiful lead actress and supported by various good / interesting looking cast, Goemon is a visual feast in every possible sense. It has good anti war morale message in it and the combination of all those above made this movie a highly entertaining one. Highly recommended.

Movie Rating:

(Exquisite Visual Entertainment)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. Blood: The Last Vampire (2009)

. K-20 (2008)

. Shaolin Girl (2008)

. Love And Honor (2006)

. The Promise (2005)

. Casshern (2004)

. Dororo DVD (2006)




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