Zipang (1992)
Director: Kaizo Hayashi
Cast: Masahiro Takashima, Narumi Yasuda.

A bounty hunter, Yuri The Pistol and her brother go on the hunt for a crook, Jigoku, and his Marx Brothersesque entourage, who are looking for the golden land of Zipang. Whilst on their search the crooks find a golden sword with magical powers, and in stealing it they inadvertently free the body of the lover (like a vampire being freed when a stake is removed from his heart), of the queen of Zipang.

The sword is whipped from the grasp of Jigoku by the leader of a couple of hundred flying ninja’s, and he, along with Yuri and the sword are magically whisked off into the world of Zipang, and brought face to face with it’s bitter golden God, and his imprisoned queen.

Yuri meets the queen and in return for being freed by her is asked to pass on a necklace to her recently resurrected lover in an effort to reunite them. The golden God of Zipang (who killed the queens’ lover a 1000 years ago) is unable to understand the meaning or the power of “human love” and decides to stomp all over this plan, as he did a thousand years ago.

Yuri only succeeds in capturing the heart of Jigoku, instead of his head, in what is a funny and weird but wonderful courtship. The golden God is dispatched, and the long lost lovers reunited, and all find out that all gold taken from the land of Zipang turns to dust when brought back to the real world, probably as a result of the death of it’s god.

Zipang certainly is a wonderful ride! With new weapons and technology side by side with old (as well as modern language, which makes for some funny surprises in the dialogue) hundreds of endless flying ninja, the action and the twists in the plot just keep on coming like a flying bullet-proof ninja from hell.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a love story.  It’s a wonderful mythological fantasy that never stops entertaining from beginning to end. Hilariously funny, interesting and so inventive it makes you want to pick up your number 7 sword and jump in on the action. Though how Jigoku dispatches several dozen pesky ninja without getting a single drop of blood on his white apparel is beyond me!

The soundtrack is similar at times to that of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2001), which this film preceded by several years. The music during the ascent into the castle of gold is totally engaging. The cinematography is brilliant, with strange sped up footage, a monochrome prologue, wonderful scenery and a brilliant transportation scene where the characters are whisked away to the world of Zipang, it is sheer wonderful and inventive cinematography.

An enthralling and enjoyable roller coaster ride full of eastern promise, on which it delivers every time.

Review by Giovanni Pistachio, Giovanni can be contacted at:- 

© Owned Giovanni Pistachio 18/03/2002



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