Movie Review: Hirokin the Last Samurai – 2012 – directed by Alejo Mo-Sun

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Sci - fi
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Hirokin must stand against a powerful emperor to free the people of the planet Aradis and become their saviour.

Well…. Where do I begin?

The film stars Wes Bentley (from ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Lost’) as the titular character Hirokin. I wouldn’t really call him a samurai, more like a wanderer of sorts who just so happens to have a sword (No your usual samurai katana either). I kinda like the character and even like his wonderful 80’s mullet he has going. I like the fact that his morals seem to lay in the grey area between good and bad. He goes on about how he doesn’t want to kill, but happily kills within seconds of saying this. (Some may call this bad writing, Myself included, but i find it more amusing then annoying) He is not alone in changing his mind on a whim, everyone’s doing it.  I also love the fact that he doesn’t initially care about anyone else until the evil man attacks him.

As an ‘experienced’ sword fighter, he really isn’t very good with his weapon. It’s almost like he thinks he’s good with it when he really isn’t. He also doesn’t watch his back which you would’ve thought would be quite important when you get into a fight with multiple opponents. This leads him to failing in battle and being captured (tut tut tut). The other fights in the film are much the same. No one really seems to know what they are doing until the final battle which, although really anti-climactic, isn’t that bad. The problem is the fact the films seems to want to have a large scale ‘epic’ feel to the film but never does. Everything is done on a small scale and you never feel there is a bigger power behind it all.

It’s sad really that the film tries to be bigger than it is. Mo-Sun clearly likes his science fiction and this can be seen throughout the movie. It takes things from so many other movies and books, but none more so than Frank Herbert’s masterpiece ‘Dune’. Say what you will about David Lynch’s version of ‘Dune’ but you can’t say it didn’t have that ‘epic’ vibe. It also helped that it had amazing actors, some great direction and a stunning source novel. This film however draws from it (sometimes horribly closely) but still doesn’t get it right. I decided to make a list of the comparisons I could find (it became an interesting game):

  •     DUNE:
  1.     Set on a desert Planet called Arrakis
  2.     Water is scarce meaning it is an invaluable resource
  3.     The planet’s natives , The ‘Freman’ are under oppression from an evil dictator.
  4.     Paul becomes an outcast and must find help.
  5.     Paul Atreides must conquer his fear and lead the Freman to victory.
  6.     Paul has visions of what’s to come in his future.
  7.     There is a power that Paul must master in order to win against the Baron. It is called ‘THE WAY’.
  8.     Paul fights one on one with the baron’s nephew Feyd-Rautha and wins.
  9.     Paul leads the Freman to victory but sacrifices his family name and his loyalty to the empire.
  •     HIROKIN:
  1.     Set on a desert planet called Aradis
  2.     Water is Scarce meaning it is an invaluable resource
  3.     The planet’s natives, The ‘Arid’ are under oppression from an evil dictator.
  4.     Hirokin is an outcast and must find help.
  5.     Hirokin must conquer his fear and lead the Arid to victory.
  6.     People have visions of what’s to come in Hirokin’s future.
  7.     There is a power that Hirokin must master in order to win against the villain. It is called ‘THE WAY’.
  8.     Hirokin fights one on one with the villain and wins.
  9.     Hirokin leads the Arid to victory but sacrifices himself to do it.

Quite similar wouldn’t you say?

These are the similarities in story but we also have things such as the production design (albeit on a much smaller scale), music, costumes, hairstyles. That’s not to say that it is only Dune that it ‘acquires from’. It happily draws things from ‘Mad Max’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Chronicles of Riddick’, ‘Highlander’, ‘Gladiator’, etc…

It’s quite sad really as when the film isn’t trying to be ‘Dune’ it’s not that bad. It has a special charm about it. What it does with its small budget is quite inspiring. The sets are pretty good (if little more than a few huts) and the costumes are all top notch (if you get around the similarities to other films’. One thing I really liked was the torture device they’ve created with some big claws that impale the victims. It’s quite an interestingly designed machine (probably stolen from somewhere else but oh well). The musical score for the film is top notch (even if it is a little overpowering at times)

The script is pretty awful and at times really annoying. This is especially true when the characters keep repeating the word ‘Gig’ as apparently adding it to words makes them sound more futuristic. It also doesn’t help that ever line is delivered like some dramatic ultimatum by every character. What starts off as mildly amusing quickly digresses into pure annoyance. The acting isn’t great either. Wes Bentley is watchable and does the job well but everyone else is cringe worthy (not always in an amusing way either).

Pacing-wise the film was OK. It never felt overlong although I’d say the ending wasn’t great. The film builds to a large scale finale but never delivers and is little more than a few people waving swords around (and Hirokin shooting his sword from its handle because he can).

I guess for a directorial debut it could have been far worse. But on the other hand it could have been a heck of a lot better.

What we have at the end of the day is a reasonably fun rehash of far greater films. It passes the time OK but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again. 5/10

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