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Onmyoji

The Yin Yang Master

Japan 2001
produced by
Kazuya Hamana, Tetsuji Hayashi, Noboyuki Tohya for Toho
directed by Yojiro Takita
starring Mansai Nomura, Hideaki Ito, Eriko Imai, Yui Natsukawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Akira Emoto, Ittoku Kishibe, Masato Hagiwara, Mai Hosho, Kenichi Yajima, Kenjiro Ishimaru, Kenichi Ishii, Houka Kinoshita, Sachiko Kokubu, Kenji Yamaki, Manami Honjou
written by Baku Yumemakura, music by Shigeru Umebayashi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Count Hiromasa (Hideaki Ito) has just made the acquaintance of Seimei (Mansai Nomura), a Yin Yang master at the court of the Mikado (Ittoku Kishibe), by whose wisdom and magic he is deeply fascinated and met Sukehime (Yui Natsukawa), a mysterious woman he has nevertheless fallen in love with, when the the court of the Mikado and indeed the whole empire is threatened by curse after curse, as rivalling wizard Doson (Hiroyuki Sanada) and rivalling Count Motokata (Akira Emoto) have joined forces to wreak havoc and make the world where humans and demons coexist on a large scale..

First, it's the Mikado's baby son who is possessed, but Seimei manages to drive the demon out of the baby and into the immortal Aone (Kyoko Koizumi), only to exorcise her later.

Count Motokata tries to immediately turn the tables on Seimei and have him arrested for black magic, but his guards are of course no match for the Yin Yang master, plus Seimei is (of course) under the protection of the Mikado.

Next the Mikado himself is threatened by an evil spirit, who turns out to be a woman he has once wronged, who in turn turns out to be Sukehime - and now it's Hiromasa's love to her that lets her find her peace.

Ultimately, Doson revives the spirit of a warrior king, Sawara (Masato Hagiwara) and lets himself be possessed by it to bring destruction to the empire, and he even kills Hiromasa, who would be instrumental in saving the empire - however, Aone the immortal reminds Seimei that she was made immortal to protect the empire and that he has to now transfer her lifeforce into Hiromasa to save it, even if that means her death.

What follows is a big martial arts and magic battle, which Seimei can only decide for the Mikado's side when he goes into the netherworld and reconciles Aone and Sawara, who were lovers a long time ago, and this way leaves Doson without his most powerful ally ...

 

Yin Yang Master is an elegantly filmed and nice piece of fantasy cinema in which state of the art CGI-effects and old fashioned narrative and direction can peacefully co-exist. As nice as the film is though it fails to leave a lasting impression, somehow it lacks an original storyline and/or imaginative setpieces to remain into one's memory for too long. That said however, the film's still good entertainment.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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