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Rurouni Kenshin 2: Kyoto Inferno/Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Taika-hen


Stars: Takeru Satoh, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Emi Takei, Yusuke Iseya, Munetaka Aoki, Yu Aoi, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Tao Tsuchiya, Min Tanaka, Kazufumi Miyazawa, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Tosuke Eguchi

Director: Keishi Otomo

Just my luck! I must have missed Part 1 of the film, “inspired by Kenshin the Wanderer: The Romance of the Meiji Swordsman" which turns out to have been a best-selling manga comic.

I mention this because had I seen the original movie I might have been better able to follow the complex but not compelling storyline of this gaudy sequel which, said the production notes (which serve as invaluable prompts for every film critic, not only those who doze off during movies: hence the well-used phrase “It would be unfair to give away any more of the plot”) “is a project that pushes back the boundaries of Japanese film”.

The good news is that the film looks good.

And, for devotees of epic swordplay, gravity defying leaps and lunges and general Japanese-movie-style mayhem, Kyoto Inferno serves up plenty.

Following the less than compelling narrative, however, is wearisome and, finally, largely irrelevant, as legendary swordsman Takeru Satoh, once feared as ‘Battosai the Killer’ is now a lone wanderer. Until, that is, he is summoned by Home Minister Kazufumi Miyazawa to sort out the villain of the piece, Tatsuya Fujiwara, who is leading mercenaries in a scheme to overthrow the 19th century Japanese government… (My sincere thanks to Warner Bros. for the crib sheet).

That’s a great deal more than you really need to know. Savour the vividly choreographed action, if you must, and wait for the third part of the trilogy to be released. For my money, it can take all the time it wants before serving up another dollop of gaudy Eastern action.

Alan Frank

Japan 2014. UK Distributor: Warner. Colour.
138 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Dec 2014