Starring Gary Daniels, Malcolm McDowell, Costas Mandylor, Downtown Julie Brown, Dante Basco, Nalona Herron, Melvin Van Peebles, Clint Howard, Chris Penn, Andre Rosey Brown, Isako Washio, Paulo Tocha
Directed by Tony Randel
Now what on Earth am I doing reviewing a live-action American film, you might ask. Well, if your memory reaches back a few weeks, you might remember my review of the anime Fist of the North Star, and this is the live-action adaptation of the series, though not specifically of that 1986 film. It claims to be the first Hollywood adaptation of an anime, and in the absence of any contrary evidence, I’m not going to argue.
The use of the word “Hollywood” implies an impressive big-budget production, but that really isn’t the case. Kill Bill this ain’t. You’re also probably questioning if a live-action American film could possibly capture the spirit of an anime, especially one as absurd as Fist of the North Star. Obviously you can’t expect to see a 20-foot-tall giant turn his skin into steel and trample an entire army. And since shit like that is the main draw of the anime title, you have to go into this version with some vastly different expectations.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Fist of the North Star (1995) →
Legend of Crystania [はじまりの冒険者たち レジェンド・オブ・クリスタニア, Hajimari no Bōkenshatachi: Rejendo obu Kurisutania] (1995)
AKA First Adventurers: Legend of Crystania
Starring Hikaru Midorikawa, Mitsuki Yayoi, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Sakiko Tamagawa, Chinami Nishimura, Kazuki Yao, Toshihiko Seki, Fumihiko Tachiki
Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura
This film supposedly ties into an anime series called Record of Lodoss War. I saw that series once upon a time, but I honestly don’t remember much about it. I even had trouble remembering its name just now. It developed a cult following for some reason, but I never really saw why. I enjoyed it at the time, but it never struck me as particularly great, or even unique. Legend of Crystania has left much the same impression on me, and like Lodoss War, I will probably forget most of it in a month or so.
It’s actually rather hard to come up with anything to say about Crystania, because there really isn’t anything good or bad about this film. It’s positively average. It’s a typical revenge story where the main character discovers that vengeance won’t make his life better, just like every other revenge story out there. It’s also a typical fantasy adventure across a magical landscape that really isn’t all that amazing because we’ve seen it all before. And it’s the typical coming of age tale of a young nobody getting sucked into a grand adventure and becoming a stronger and more reliable somebody.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Legend of Crystania (1995) →
Slayers [スレイヤーズ, Sureiyâzu]
Starring Megumi Hayashibara, Maria Kawamura, Osamu Saka, Tessho Genda, Minami Takayama
Directed by Hiroshi Watanabe & Kazuo Yamazaki
As you might have guessed by the title, Slayers: the Motion Picture is by no means the first product in the Slayers franchise. But unlike other anime movies, this is not a summary of a longer series or a sequel relying on previous events. It has no influence on the rest of the series, nor does the rest of the series influence it in any meaningful way, and its place in the timeline is mostly indeterminate. (Various websites assure me it’s a prequel, but there is nothing in the film to indicate that.) Therefore, it makes as good an entry point as any to the series.
Rather than the usual gang of misfits the series centers around, main character and master wizard Lina Inverse is wandering around on her own and is soon dragged off by fellow sorceress Naga to visit the famous hot springs of Mipross Island. I’m glad they kept the cast small, as the movie avoids the pitfalls of huge casts that plague many other anime films. Instead it is a classic odd couple routine where the two conflicting personalities of Lina and Naga collide.
Continue reading Stephen reviews: Slayers: the Motion Picture (1995) →