review by Bobby Blakey
Well Go USA continues to not only bring the best in Asian martial arts and horror cinema to the US, but some out there projects as well. Their latest martial arts sci-fi flick is Gintama, based on best-selling action comedy manga by Hideaki Sorachi, but does it capture the source material and deliver the action fun or will the invasion fail?
Gintama follows an alternate Edo-period Japan, where an Alien race has taken control, forcing Samurai to lay down their swords. Once feared as the "White Demon," former samurai Gintoki Sakata now works as an everyday handyman--until a master swordsman tasks Gintoki and his friends with finding the cursed sword Benizakura to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Going in I admit I know nothing about this manga, but from a bit of research I did prior to checking it out I got that it was meant to be a comedy. Glad I did the research first because that made this film work in a completely different way than I thought it was going to be. The story is all over the place and every time I thought I knew what was going on it took a left turn somewhere else. What’s funny though is I didn’t care because it was so much silly fun I just wanted to continue the journey.
The main characters looked accurate to the manga from what I’ve seen, but the strange choices with the costuming of the varying alien races are just weird. Some look like furries and others like something out of Power Rangers, but the one stand out is a chick/bird thing that looked like it was some strange cross breed from Sid & Marty Kroft and a school mascot. The weird thing about it was that it was the most ridiculous looking thing in the entire movie and after while I somehow bought into it. Overall the movie is over the top, but the visuals are vibrant and memorable to the very end.
There is some great action here and there that makes it feel like it came right out of the anime, but nothing that really holds up to some of the better martial arts flicks. There are some fun comical nods to some other manga properties and it pokes fun at itself so often that it makes you more willing to buy into the silliness of it as a whole. I am interested to hear what fans of the manga think, but it is surely not for everyone.
Grab your copy of Gintama on Blu-ray and DVD on March 6th from Well Go USA.