Bushido Man (2013)
The way of the meal.
I'm not gonna say no to a martial arts flick. Silly, serious, either one can be rather fun. Heck, even low-quality B-grade martial arts has it's place in the old entertainment shelf. So, whilst looking for another movie to tide over times till the repairs of my own entertainment center happens, we get to jump around a bit and entertain our inner karate-chop wielding selves with Bushido Man. At the very least, that's what we are hoping for!
Our main character has just returned from his travels. His master is eager to hear the tales of his journey - but not in such a short order as to miss out on any details. We immediately discover this isn't going to be the same as other martial arts movies when the first details we catch are of the meal our main ate before going to do battle. It is said that to really know one's enemy, they must first eat like their enemy - and through just a description of his meal the master already knows just who the man has challenged first. Some hand-to-hand martial arts battle is then flash-backed to, with the battle being quite even for the most part, and some visual queues giving us a hint at the animal the man is imitating with his style. In the heat of the battle though, his opponent hurts his hand trying to steer them both away from falling on a turtle, and the hero decides to bash his own hand with a rock to make things are even.
Our story continues very much the same manner after the conclusion of the battle, with the Hero presenting the scroll and moving on to the next meal. This time, his master has a little harder time guessing who exactly he is fighting, until he realizes that it's not about the flavors but more about the items - a master stick fighter is next on the chart! The hero and the stick master throw down in another battle, with the hero hoping to not get swept under the rug by his opponents skilled onslaught (there's a joke in there for those who watch it). After the conclusion, we move to the next meal - again with the master guessing his opponent based on what he ate.
This process goes on through the hero's various battles - a nunchaku battler. A masterful blind swordsman. The master thinks this the end of the tale, getting rather hungry from all the recollections of wonderful food, but is both in part dismayed and excited to hear that it doesn't stop yet. A Yakuza with intense knife-skills. An America-obsessed gun toting Japanese Cowboy. A mysterious woman with special guns that shoot when you punch! When all has been recalled, the two go out to try out some of the weapons the hero has brought back, but will it signify the end of the training, or something else?
At first, it's hard to tell when this movie is supposed to take place - and then you see actual modern city and realize that at the very least it's a story-tale version of today, if not the future. The nice side of this is it gives the opportunity for some interesting things - such as punching-guns and knee-shotguns - without necessarily leaving out more classical elements - such as outfits and swords. The outfits are all put together nicely, and through costumes there are even a few nods to other movies (if not people) in the genre - such as Bruce Lee during the nunchaku fight. Although it isn't so much a costume, I guess here would be a fine place to mention that the food will probably make you hungry, as it all looks quite delicious.
Actors do a good job, and there are some comedy elements in it. How much comedy is lost in translation between the cultures I can't attest to, but even then there are a few solid moments of obvious jokes and the escalating nature toward the end of the movie brings up concepts that are easy to laugh at as well at how over-the-top they can be. The fight choreography comes off very nicely as well, so those looking to just get some martial arts action will be content with what's present here. The overall presentation at times even feels a bit anime-like, with it's more off kilter elements feeling like they would belong just fine if this was drawn instead of live acted.
Music helps mood and intensity for the action scenes, but nothing particularly that will follow you around all day. Sound balance is done just right, making it easy to understand everything while still hearing all those thumps and whacks and slices of whatever weapons are going on. Fights camera-work can be a little bit hectic at times, but for the most part it's pretty constant and easy to follow each action, sometimes even making a particular attack look much more mighty than it otherwise may have. That said, the formula of the movie does get a bit "see it coming" with how events fold out, even if the weapons and characters fighting the hero keep changing.
Bushido Man is a fun little romp. It delivered the action scenes that I desired, made me hungrier than I had expected, and manged to take the time to slide in a few jokes as well. Decent enough for a rental for most (although as always parent's should watch and dictate what's appropriate for their own kids), and probably an own for the big martial arts movie fans. It's also (currently) available on Netflix streaming service, so folks with that will have an easy time checking it out if they desire.