Director: Nopporn Watin | 98 minutes | action, drama, history | Actors: Seigi Ozeki, Kanokkorn Jaicheun, Sorapong Chatree, Winai Kraibutr, Thanawut Ketsaro, Buakhao Paw Pramuk, Somjit Jongjohor, Bin Bunluerit
“This film is inspired by a true story and complemented by the creators’ imaginations,” said the beginning of “Yamada – The Way of the Samurai” (also known as “Yamada: The Samurai of Ayothaya”). People who expect a faithful image of a historical character should look differently, because the boundary between fact and fiction is nowhere demarcated. It doesn’t matter, because you end up watching these kinds of movies for the action. And it is just well put together.
“Yamada – The Way of the Samurai” loosely tells the true story of samurai Yamada Nagamasa (Seigi Ozeki). He lives in the Thai capital of Ayothaya and serves King Naresuan. When our hero is attacked by ninjas – Japanese assassins from within his own ranks – after a night of swipe-out – he is lovingly cared for by his enemies. Ultimately, Yamada realizes that his enemy – the Thai people – is not that bad at all and joins them. The Japanese receives training in the Thai martial art and takes on his fellow countrymen who have betrayed him.
This film was made as part of the 124-year relationship between Japan and Thailand and it shows. The villains are portrayed in a very caricature, so that no country comes off badly. The Thai people are friendly and our Japanese hero righteous. By portraying the villains in a caricature (constantly a fierce, maniacal look in the eyes and talking loudly), a common enemy emerges whose cultural background no longer counts. Only his violent and unreasonable disposition counts. The film plays safe and does not offend anyone. That results in a few awkward scenes that would work in a children’s movie or anime, but not in a live action movie. Such unrealistic villains are outdated and look cartoonish.
The frequently depicted beautiful environments are also a nice calling card. The travel agency could not wish for better advertising. Anyway, it is all about the action and it should be there. It’s just such a damn shame that there are relatively few fight scenes. Much attention is paid to the recovery of the injured Yamada. That is not very interesting, because Ozeki portrays the character quite flat. Unfortunately. Fortunately, the fan of martial arts can enjoy a number of strong scenes in which the rock-hard Muay Thai fighting style is central. The fighting style looks graceful, but above all very blunt and painful. The agility and flexibility of the fighters is a joy to watch. It is also impressive to see how unwieldy the fighting style of the samurai looks in comparison to the fast Muay Thai.
“Yamada – The Way of the Samurai” is a semi-successful film. The action looks spectacular, but unfortunately too much time is spent on the not very captivating story. Fans of samurais, Muay Thai and Eastern history can give this film a try. Lovers of blunt action should keep the fastforward button on their remote a friend while watching this action movie.