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Satomi Hakken-den

Legend of the Eight Samurai
Legend of Eight Samurai

Japan 1983
produced by
Haruki Kadokawa, Hiroshi Sugawara for Toei
directed by Kinji Fukasaku
starring Hiroki Yakushimaru, Hiroyuki Sanada, Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi, Yuki Meguro, Mari Natsuki, Nana Okada, Masaki Kyomoto, Kenji Ohba, Nagare Hagiwara, Minori Terada, Takuya Fukuara, Shunsuke Kariya, Mamako Yoneyama, Akira Hamada, Akira Shioji, Seizo Fukumoto, Mikio Narita, Tadashi Naruse, Taiji Tonoyama
written by Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Kamata, music by Joey Carbone, Richie Zito, visual effects by Tetuzo Osawa/Marble Fine Arts

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Princess Shizu (Hiroko Yakushimaro) is the last survivor of the Satomi-clan, and now she finds herself on the run from evil queen Tamazusa (Mari Natsuki) and her sadistic son (Yuki Meguro), who are in league with demonic powers and who have eliminated Shizu's whole clan. Good thing then that according to legend there will be eight fighters to save Shizu from certain doom, eight fighters who will be recognizable by carrying magic crystals. And fortunately, brothers Dosetsu (Sonny Chiba) and Daikaku (Minori Terada), both of whom carry crystals, have set out to gather the Princess and her other saviours.

The first handful of these are quickly found (and are played by Etsuko Shihomi, Masaki Kyomoto, Takuya Fukuhara and Shunsuke Kariya), but the last two are tricky ... and that's not even the biggest problem, the biggest problem is that the princess is eventually kidnapped by good-for-nothing Shinbei (Hiroyuki Sanada), who wants to hand her over to Tamazusa and Motofuji just to collect the reward and live happily ever after. But while trying to get her to the baddies' palace, Shinbei sees what Tamazusa and Motofuji's men are capable of doing, and he has a change of heart and now protects her ... and soon the two of them fall in love.

Shinbei brings the Princess back to her crystal-carrying protectors but is not accepted as one of them because he carries no crystal and sent away. Still worried about the Princess' safety, he follows them at a distance, until two of the protectors try to get rid of him for good - and throw him right into the fangs of the evil army. Tamazusa tries to win Shinbei's confidence by trying to convince him he's her son, but ultimately Motofuji prepares to have his way with him, meaning skinning him alive - when one of the commanders of his army, Genpachi (Kenji Ohba), turns against his own men, saves Shinbei, and returns him to the Princess.

Why did he do that?

Because he, too, carries a crystal. And wouldn't you know it, Shinbei eventually discovers he's carrying one as well. Now all eight of the Princess's protectors are assembled, but then she is kidnapped by the evil army and held in Tamazusa and Motofuji's palace, and now the eight heroes have to enter the palace and fight the entire evil army and quite a few supernatural beings as well, and one by one our heroes are falling, until only Shinbei makes it to the Princess, frees her, hands her a magic bow and arrow, and when she takes a shot at whatever is the center of Tamazusa and Motofuji's evil power, the palace starts to crumble, burying all the baddies under its rubble, and only Shizu and Shinbei make it out alive.

Shizu could live the life of a Princess now, but she gives everything up to be with Shinbei ...

Somehow cute but ultimately forgettable Japanese sword and sorcery flick that features tons of action and some great visuals, but also a way too predictable story with way too many narrative threads that are either given up at one point or not allowed to come to fruitition, and a cast of very bland and rather uninteresting characters.

Reviewers like to point out that this is a fantasy remake of director Kinji Fukasaku's earlier sci-fi-flick Message from Space, but the similarities between these two are rather ffleeting and reduced to the fact that both films are about a princess and her eight heroes signified by the crystals the carry. And while Message from Space takes quite a few cues from the Star Wars-series, Legend of the Eight Samurai can actually be seen as a template for later (multi character) adventure videogames in structure (the adventures our heroes have to face in this one more resemble levels than anything else), cast of characters (each of our heroes has some special abilities) and even storyline as such. The interesting thing is of course that in 1983, videogames as such were still in their infancy ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD