Thursday, June 14, 2012

0 Watch or Die! #22: Smooth Sailing - "Red Panther" (Official Video)

Nothing beats a good samurai flick.  The slow pace, the ultra violence, the characters, the underlying themes and metaphors - it possesses everything viewers wish for in a movie. One can never go wrong when venturing into Kurosawa, Kobayashi, Hashimoto, Okamoto, and Miike territory.  In fact, I guarantee no screenwriter living or dead has written more killer flicks than Shinobu Hashimoto.  Having penned the films Seven Samurai, Samurai Assassin, Harikiri, Sword of DoomThe Hidden Fortress, Throne of Blood, and Rashomon, I would dare say he owns the genre and could possibly be the most influential screenwriter of all time.  Most would kill to have one quality screenplay in their body of work - I am barely scratching the surface of Okamoto's career.

Total bad ass mofo.   The best!

When Smooth Sailing's new video "Red Panther" plopped into my Facebook world, I felt that old addiction surging back.  More samurai content for me to chew on.  Just what I needed.

Director, Adam Leeman, has created a highly stylized, spot-on homage to a classic genre. He easily and thoughtfully captures the classic samurai ethos by keeping it relatively simple.  The camera, helmed masterfully by cinematographers Jon Augustavo and Megan Lin, focuses on a sword slaying master, played by Brandon Uttech,  who gracefully executes his forms throughout the narrative.   As the music dies down at the beginning of "Red Panther," the shot peering through the tall grass evokes images of the showdown in Samurai Rebellion. A silhouette of the sword slaying master in front of a red backdrop hints of the under appreciated Samurai Fiction.  Adding blood to the sword and grass validates "Red Panther" - a warrior's journey is not complete without blood. 

But what about the box?  This motif delivers the audience a thought provoking metaphor.  Could it be foreshadowing the the warrior's ultimate sacrifice: life? Maybe it symbolizes the inner conflict so many samurai film protagonists face: the choice between using one's strength for justice and defending the weak or exploiting the masses with vengeful might to further themselves.  The sword slaying master must come to terms with his aptitude to defile the living.

But don't take my word for it, make your own interpretation.  WATCH OR DIE!

by Jerry Howard


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