Thursday, May 28, 2015



Label: Artsploitation Films

Region: A
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 5.1, German DTS-HD MA 5.1 with English Subtitles 
Video: HD Widescreen 
Director: Till Kleinert
Cast: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uwe Preuss

Der Samurai centers on a young police officer named Jakob (Michel Diercks) whom resides in a small German village. At the start of the film he seems to struggle for recognition from the community, none of whom seem to take him seriously, you get the feeling that he's a bit of an outsider. There have been reports of wolves in the area and Jakob takes a keen interest in them, baiting the wolves with bags of fresh meat in the forests just outside of the village, in an effort to keep them away from the village where there have been reports of dogs going missing.

One night on patrol he spots a wolf in the woods and follows it when he happens upon an abandoned house in the forest, investigating he encounters a nameless man (Pit Bukowski) in a white dress. The sinewy man has an uncanny ability to get under Jakob's skin with some strange conversation and things escalate quickly from here and the young officer finds himself up against what might just be a shape-shifting samurai sword wielding weirdo in a dress, not the usual small town problems. The vengeful cross-dresser disappears into the night sets about decimating the inhabitants of the village with his sword while further antagonizing young Jakob.

Let me tell you folks that this one is an eyeful of awesome visuals and a head full of a psychological what-ifs, sometimes the unexpected is just what you need and this German film was quite an unexpected treat. The film is low budget but has some artful cinematography and shot composition with some clever editing and a few wonderfully kinetic action-sequences that will keep you glued to the screen, all wrapped up in nightmarish imagery within contemporaneity fairy tale setting, like a modern German folktale. 

If you wanna dig a little deeper under the surface of the bloody cat and mouse game there are some pretty overt themes of sexual identity throughout, but regardless of what level you choose to engage the film it is certainly an entertaining watch. The flow of film has a bit of a nightmarish quality about it which gives it a surreal Lynchian vibe, with added edge of a slip-wearing swordsman separating heads from shoulders, with some exuberantly bloody scenes with some dark humor thrown in from time to time.

Bukowski and Diercks are superb in their roles, both are fearless and Bukowski in particular has an almost supernatural menace about him, both impish and fatal at the same time, you just cannot look away from these very intense performances, the combination of powerful performances and artful direction makes for a strange and wonderful watch.

Der Samura arrives on Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer that is completely solid, the color saturation is vibrant and the black levels are deep and rich. The color scheme is gorgeous, a lot of luscious green and accented by amber ighting and sploshes of blood red. There are two audio options, both German DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional English subtitles. The sound design complements the gorgeous nightmare cinematography with a good atmospheric mix. 

Extras on the disc include an audio commentary from the director and producer who offera  lot of insight about the making of the film. There's also a making of featurette that goes into how certain scenes were achieved complete with outtakes, including a scene of Jakob running through the woods which was achieved in a way that reminded me of how Mario Bava achieved certain shots in A Bay of Blood, by pretty much slapping the actor in the face with tree branches on a stage. Extras are finished up with a selection of trailers for the film and others from Artsploitation Films. 

Special Features:

- Audio Commentary with Director Till Kleinert and Producer Linus De Paoli
- Behind the scenes Featurette (11 Mins) HD
- Trailer (2 Mins) HD
- Artsploitation Trailers 

A surreal take on a contemporary samurai film with some strange Lynchian notes and a transgressive sexual subtext that makes for some truly fascinating viewing, this is a high recommend for the more adventurous types who don't mind a samurai fairy-tale with a queer slant. Artsploitation are back, if you are crave strange and provocative world cinema their initial Blu-ray offering is something worth celebrating. 3.5/5