Saturday, 15 November 2014

Zipang (1990)

Imagine if Indiana Jones was a swaggering, not-terribly bright bandit from the Shogunate era, and you've got an idea of what sort of film Jipangu (as it is known in the original Japanese) is going to be.

Jigoku is the swaggering bandit mentioned above, a braggart and scoundrel but - in the manner of movie heroes everywhere - not entirely bad underneath it all.  With his entourage of kooky sidekicks, he stumbles across a magical sword that can unlock the door to the mythical Land of Gold, Zipang.

Alas for Jigoku, there are literally hundreds of bounty hunters after him.  And the small matter of an army of ninja who want the sword.  On the plus side, at least if you ask Jigoku, one of the bounty hunters is Yuri the Pistol.  He's rather flattered to be chased by such an attractive young woman.  Even if she is only after his head.

Yes, of course they're going to end up together.  Zipang may be a pants-on-head crazy movie with NinjaCam binoculars and people punching out their own rib cage to make a weapon, but it's got fairly traditional story beats under all the nuttiness: boy meets girl.  Girl tries to kill boy.  Ninjas and evil gods attack.  True love wins out.  You know, typical stuff.

I'm not going to go into detail about the film's plot, or all the wacky hijinks en route to the conclusion.  I do want to call out the neat design though.  There's a segment where the entire cast of good guys and bad guys converges on a massive, spiralling staircase several hundred feet high, and the whole scene looks and feels like they really are on such a construction.  It's very well done.

As for whether I'd recommend the film?  If you were at all intrigued by any of the above, you should see this movie.

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