4.01 – OROCHI and Futility

We kick off season 4 — and our chronological tour through martial arts cinema — with the 1925 film OROCHI. After some glowing reviews of the film, we talk about the number of ways in which it feels like a very modern piece of cinema: from some of the gender politics, to the stunning choreography of some of its fight scenes, and its almost nihilistic overall message.

Next Week
The next in our series of martial arts films, and the last silent movie for this genre, is the 1931 film whose English title is JIROKICHI THE RAT.

This Week’s Media
30 ROCK (2006—13): Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski
VENOM (2018): Ruben Fleischer, Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams
SUMMER OF 84 (2018): François Simard, Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis

Further Watching
47 RONIN (2013): Carl Rinsch, Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada
ENTER THE DRAGON (1973): Robert Clouse, Bruce Lee, John Saxon
HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973): Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill
MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981): George Miller, Mel Gibson, Harold Baigent

For more on the traditions of Japanese cinema with which OROCHI was engaging, see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabuki. A reminder that we covered DRUNKEN ANGEL, the 1948 Kurosawa film which certainly owes a debt to this one, in September 2017 (way back in the mists of time): http://www.kaiju.fm/prestige/3-05-drunken-angel-and-disease. This video shows some of the absurdly heightened editing that we see in later martial arts/action films; as Rob discusses, the absence of these techniques from OROCHI is really quite refreshing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRcfHkPDt5I. Finally, it seems appropriate to end an episode on this film, with its especially negative central message, with a note about where Sam thought this narrative was going: https://www.britannica.com/topic/seppuku.