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Dororo: The Quest of a Samurai Warrior [Import]

Mieko Harada , Yoshio Harada , Akihiko Shiota    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 31.46 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Format:DVD
A warlord on the brink of defeat pledges the life of his son to 48 demons, in exchange for the power to subdue his enemies. The scavenged boy, now a bare soul in a lump of flesh, is saved by a shaman, who constructs body parts for him from the bodies of young children destroyed in battle, and commits him to avenge their souls by struggling against war. He must also win back his body parts from the 48 demons who have taken them in order to become flesh and wreak havoc. Along the way he meets a nameless thief, a young woman who was also abandoned at childhood, when the warlord killed her parents. What follows is an unusual love story and revenge tale that turns into a quest for redemption, with a bunch of fun swordplay with inventive, if also a bit silly, Yokai-style demons. The bloody explosions that ensued when a demon was destroyed, combined with the sometimes hokey but always unusual costumes of the demons, reminded me a bit of old school horror like The Evil Dead, but with a major Japanese twist, and a bit of CGI thrown in there for some of the more unusual effects. It's unintentionally funny at times, and maybe takes itself too seriously, but it's fun to watch and has a number of intriguing twists in a storyline that is mostly successful in avoiding cliche. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece, but it was a lot of fun to watch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Monster child Sept. 18 2008
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
For the record, I've never read the original "Dororo" manga by Osamu Tezuka, and I probably won't. Not any time soon, anyway.

But for some reason I ended up snaring a copy of the horror/fantasy story "Dororo," a bizarre Japanese fantasy story about a stoic young man who wanders through an unnamed Asian land trying to regain his body parts. It's a strange, dark story with lots of macabre humour and a raucous sidekick, and director Akihiko Shiota keeps the story chugging along to the end.

Years ago a brutal warlord traded forty-eight of his unborn son's body parts to a slew of demons, in exchange for power to dominate the whole world.

The baby was sent adrift on a nearby river, and a kindly old spellcaster gave him artificial limbs and organs. Now the young man (Satoshi Tsumabuki) roams around killing the demons to regain his body parts. A young thief (Kou Shibasaki) learns his story and starts following him around, after dubbing herself by his nickname "Dororo" (or "Monster Child") and him Hyakkimaru after the sword inside his artificial left arm.

The two of them succeed in slaying several demons -- including voracious caterpillars and an armless dinosaur -- and regain a few more of Hyakkimaru's body parts. But when he kills one demon, it hints at the identity of the man who ruined Hyakkimaru's life. And he inadvertently learns that the cruel warlord who murdered Dororo's family is none other than Daddy Dearest.

"Dororo" is one of those truly bizarre movies that you usually only find in Asian countries -- they seem a bit more secure with the macabre, bizarre, and totally unbelievable.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An imaginitive Japanese fantasy romp Sept. 28 2008
By trashcanman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This story of outcasts, demons, and a power-mongering warlord takes place during Japan's storied Warring States period and has been through manga and anime adaptations in the late 60's (now THAT is old school) but has just now gotten the big screen live-action treatment. 'Bout time. Two sequels are on the way as well so lovers of Asian and fantasy cinema must rejoice! This movie is a lot of fun to watch and although it is uneven at times -especially the special effects- it is highly recommended to fans of the genre.

"Dororo" is the story of a child whose body was sold to demons in exchange for power before his very birth. The monsters divided him up into 48 parts, one for each of them, and left him a featureless stump of a newborn. Unwilling to allow her powermad husband to kill the wretched child, his mother sent him down the river in a basket, Moses-style. He's found by a supernaturally gifted aspiring doctor who has been studying the science of regrowing limbs. He gifts the baby with replacements for all of his missing bodyparts adn raises him as his own. How a newborn survived that long with no heart, liver, or the like is not explained. As a grown man, the nameless outcast hunts down the demons who stole his body. Each time he slays one, his original body part grows back in. Along the way, he meets a similarly nameless female thief played by super-charming pop idol Kou Shibasaki. The uncultured and obnoxious girl happens upon the hero slaying a demon in a bar and decides to follow him, hoping to take his blade -which was forged for vengeance- for her own quest. She takes a liking to the name "Dororo" (little monster) and takes it as her own and the two are all set for adventure.

The hero -who takes the name Hyakkimaru- is your typical stoic Japanese protagonist and Dororo is the typical Kikuchiyo character: foolish and annoying, but gutsy and with a big heart. Hyakkimaru's aforementioned sword is particularly cool because it is embedded in his his elbow with his phony forearm acting like a pseudo-flesh sheath. Very, very cool. The fights are plentiful and a lot of fun and the variety of demons is wonderful, ranging from a blade-wielding gargoyle to a ridiculously awesome crabwoman to a monstrous tree that will likely drop your jaw. The journey is an absolute joy until the plot starts to thicken. Yup, old family reckonings must be reckoned. The result is a slowdown on the action and a dramatically ill-thought-out finale that isn't bad, but definitely knocks the film down a notch. Any more would be spoilers.

The special effects are very inconsistent. The first demon was a marvel to behold and I had assumed that this was the going to be the best fantasy film ever after it showed up. On the other end, there's a giant suitmation lizard that would still have looked cheap and out-of-place if he was battling Godzilla in the 60's, CG tongue or no. There are more winners than losers, but the inconsistency is annoying.

"Dororo" is full of cool characters, bada$z beasties, and killer concepts so if you enjoy the occasional fantasy film then proceed full steam ahead; this one's a winner. I'm hotly anticipating the sequels and wondering if another anime might be forthcoming. That would be sweet. Here's to American audiences getting a clue and demanding that quality films be imported from overseas for the theatrical runs they richly deserve. We've got next to nothing going on over here.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy Adventure: Full of Emotional Complexity Aug. 12 2009
By BlueIris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I had no idea when I selected "Dororo" from the Comcast-on-Demand "Free Movie" section that it would become an obsession. It's a very clever combination of elements from the Biblical story of Moses, the Pinocchio fairytale, the classical Frankenstein novel and the Highlander movies. The premise is that Hyakkimaru's father, a powerful warlord, sold 48 of his body parts to 48 demons for power over his enemies before he was even born. A young man now, Hyakkimaru must kill each demon to retrieve his true body. I can truly say that I've never seen a film as bizarre as this and yet with so many emotional layers. This film upon the first viewing will leave you gaping and you'll become mesmerized by the concepts used in the movie.

The director's vision is chock full of issues surrounding abandonment, and the effect of warmongering on children, most specifically our two main characters. In the prelude to the first battle Hyakkimaru has in the movie with a demon, several caged sad-eyed children roll by in wagon. Later, we see the remains of an orphanage consumed by a fire that killed all the children. At the orphanage, Dororo berates a couple who abandoned their child to the orphanage.

The two lead characters are fully formed characters, and their personalities evolve plausibly in this highly implausible movie as their relationship morphs and changes. The interaction between the two lead characters, Hyakkimaru and Dororo is fascinating to watch. We learn as an old storyteller tells the brash and inquisitive Dororo, who claims status as a master thief, how Hyakkimaru has "lost heart" after his 3rd demon kill. Of course, as I suspect the old storyteller knew, with Dororo as his companion, his depressive state could not continue. She simply becomes a force of nature in his life as she voices honestly to him that once he's done with the sword given him by the old story teller, especially designed to kill demons, that she will steal it from him. There is no way she's going to let him ditch her and she is not phased at his oddly working body parts, and thing that cannot be said of certain of the villagers he's encountered in his quest, which is reminiscent of the Frankenstein story. Her first act of theft with him is to steal one of his names, Dororo. The two even have their own theme music to commemorate their "bumpy" first meeting and relationship. Music very different from the depressive dirge we hear when we first meet Hyakkimaru, the man. What Dororo doesn't know is that she's stolen a name that literally means, "Little Monster," so her theft was actually a comforting gift, because like Pinocchio, Hyakkimaru longs to be a real human.

The secondary characters are important also, especially the shaman, Jukai, who, like Dr. Frankenstein and Geppetto, create from something new from something imperfectly formed. Jukai adopts Hyakkimaru and the scenes show both his adoring affection and his firm hand. It's an odd miracle that the only person on earth that could help such a pitiful, limbless creature should be this man. An odd dichotomy in father figures in the story, as one tries to make whole what the other divided. One is a warmonger and the other abhors war.

It is because each character has such a rich emotional life that you can ignore the CGI creatures, though I found them wildly creative. I like the fast paces scenes as well as the slower paced ones. I found no scene boring, not even the ones where the two main characters "seem" to be idly looking at flowers. The deeper and longer you look, the more cinematic gems you'll find. The participation of Dororo in Hyakkimaru's battles with the demons is substantial and very interesting to watch. Both fierce and brave, she is his true and tenacious friend and while she can call him "lunkhead" and "fool", no one else better try it. During the film she sacrifices something of extreme emotional importance to her for the sake of Hyakkimaru, which is a act of great weight, because she is quite stubborn, willful and headstrong, but it is here where the emotional layering gets even more intriguing.

It's telling that Dororo should be on the scene when Hyakkimaru recovers his voice, hearing and sight. Before her he had no one with whom to celebrate his victories, but does rather boisterously with her. She starts off with him much like a bossy, bratty, annoying little sister and ends up being more. And yet this happens with no overt romantic acts, but rather in the way the two respond to one another during crises. Of course, as I've said, I believe the old story teller arranged this circumstance, and, of course, he appears on the scene again during a major rupture between the two of them.

The reason I keep watching it over and over again is because it's one of those films where with each reviewing you see something you missed the first, fifth, twentieth time. Check out how demon blood spatter is handled and the shaman's oddly sterile "laboratory." Check out the wonderful acting of the actors who play his biological parents. Those scenes are palpable. Because of these, though I can not condone what Hyakkimaru's father did, I completely understand his motivation.

As for how a baby could survive without a heart or other organs, it makes sense to me that for the demons to get actual "living" human body parts, they had to set in motion some kind of life-sustaining field around the body, else the baby would expire with each theft. I believe this is also the reason for his other other worldly abilities. Be sure to savor each time Hyakkimaru regains a body part, because with the same interest I had whenever the Highlander would receive power after a beheading, I also had each time Hyakkimaru regained one of his stolen body parts. Satoshi Tsumabuki can act his behind off.

And the soundtrack -- is awesome. It lays the foundation for the emotional resonance throughout the film, whether it's whimsical or dark.

To avoid expository dialogue, we see the two main characters' history in several flashback scenes. Oddly, several are without the traditional introduction, but while this takes some getting used to, it does not detract from the movie.

The only problem I had was with certain of the English subtitles. When Hyakkimaru "senses" danger, as he his both blind and deaf, the subtitles translate his saying what I interpret as "I sense danger" as "I feel murderous." It took seeing it a second time to get what was really meant. Spiderman's Peter Parker would have said his Spidey senses were tingling. If you end up watching it as many times as I've had, you won't need the subtitles, you'll actually begin to become fluent in understanding Japanese.

Can't wait for the sequels "Dororo 2" and "Dororo 3" so as to learn more about Dororo's own intriguing past and the wall she carefully keeps up between Hyakkimaru and herself while still keeping herself close.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise Feb. 5 2009
By Patrick O. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Let me start off by saying I have never read the original manga this movie is based on so if you are looking to see how accurate this movie is to its source material this review might not be for you.

To put it simply, if you're in the mood for a fantasy film with swords, demons, and a decent storyline look no further than Dororo.

the GOOD:
1. Storyline is entertaining.
2. the acting is solid, slightly campy but, still fun.
3. the last half of the movie (without giving away anything) is where the story really seems to come to life.

the BAD:
1. the special effects are hit and miss. Sometimes they look great and other times they look, well, just bad.
2. some of the monster costumes look like they came straight out of a Power Rangers episode.

Since you're reading this review I assume you're interested in this title anyway so do yourself a favor and pick this one up, you won't regret it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great SciFi/Samurai Movie!!! Jan. 7 2012
By Maharlika - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Without going into a dissertation, I really liked the movie and the story line. Some might find it hokey or stupid, but it's only for entertainment purposes!!! I hope that they continue the story line and make more movies!! I would definitely buy them!!!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster child Sept. 16 2008
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
For the record, I've never read the original "Dororo" manga by Osamu Tezuka, and I probably won't. Not any time soon, anyway.

But for some reason I ended up snaring a copy of the horror/fantasy story "Dororo," a bizarre Japanese fantasy story about a stoic young man who wanders through an unnamed Asian land trying to regain his body parts. It's a strange, dark story with lots of macabre humour and a raucous sidekick, and director Akihiko Shiota keeps the story chugging along to the end.

Years ago a brutal warlord traded forty-eight of his unborn son's body parts to a slew of demons, in exchange for power to dominate the whole world.

The baby was sent adrift on a nearby river, and a kindly old spellcaster gave him artificial limbs and organs. Now the young man (Satoshi Tsumabuki) roams around killing the demons to regain his body parts. A young thief (Kou Shibasaki) learns his story and starts following him around, after dubbing herself by his nickname "Dororo" (or "Monster Child") and him Hyakkimaru after the sword inside his artificial left arm.

The two of them succeed in slaying several demons -- including voracious caterpillars and an armless dinosaur -- and regain a few more of Hyakkimaru's body parts. But when he kills one demon, it hints at the identity of the man who ruined Hyakkimaru's life. And he inadvertently learns that the cruel warlord who murdered Dororo's family is none other than Daddy Dearest.

"Dororo" is one of those truly bizarre movies that you usually only find in Asian countries -- they seem a bit more secure with the macabre, bizarre, and totally unbelievable. Seriously, where else can you find a Japanese steampunk castle, a man-eating moth, and a young man whose body is mostly composed of artificial organs and limbs animated by electricity?

And director Akihiko Shiota does a good job juggling the fantasy, horror and family rama, as well as the first buds of a potential love story. And while the story gets dark and bloody in the last third -- including a gruesome duel between family members and Hyakkimaru's bleak battle with two mind-twisting demon dogs -- he's not afraid to splatter it with some rather macabre humour. Hyakkimaru barfs up various organs and reacts oddly when he has the real thing back ("SHUT UP!") and Dororo repeatedly gets sprayed with demon gore.

While the CGI is merely adequate, the demons encountered are nicely gruesome -- carnivorous caterpillars, leather-faced harpies, and a man-eating tree are amongst them. And the movie takes takes full advantage of the windswept, grassy New Zealand terrain and the many burned temples, shady green forests and dark rivers that our heroes encounter.

And since it takes place in an unspecified Asian land -- Japanese-styled with some European armor and goblets -- Shiota has fun with the details, adding in everything from Japanese monsters to a Frankensteinian body-part-making machine.

Tsumabaki does a pretty solid job as the "monster child" -- glum, stoic and tormented by his freakish body, but occasionally he tumbles down in the rain laughing his head off. And while Shibasaki is initially a bit annoying as the sexually confusing urchin, she becomes a much stronger and more likable character once she gains some concern for her new friend.

"Dororo" has a thoroughly unbelievable plot, but this is surprisingly not enough to overshadow this enjoyably bizarre horror-fantasy story. Strange, quirky and just gross enough.
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