Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Samurai (2014) Film Review
Jakob (Michel Diercks) is an orphan who lives with his grandmother in a quaint little house at the edge of the woods. One day he starts getting too close to a wolf. Befriending wild things can be dangerous in more ways than one. Jakob doesn't have a little red cape and there's no woodcutter to save him. He is the police officer in charge of the local area. His innocence could place everyone at risk.
Jakob helps a woman whose car has broken down. She's just passing through and she gives him a lift. She asks how he can stand to live around here, among these people. He defends his hometown, but the question lingers. The local people don't take his authority seriously. They bully him. No matter what he may think about the matter himself, they're sure he's gay, and that makes him an object of ridicule. He copes with it by remaining polite, pretending it's not happening, perhaps because, somewhere inside, he's aware of what the alternative is. Then he meets a man in the woods who wears a long white dress and lipstick, wields a samurai sword, and isn't prepared to take any shit from anybody.
Part madman-on-the-loose slasher flick, part love story, The Samurai is all about pushing boundaries. Its eponymous anti-hero (Pit Bukowski) is as dangerous chained as armed, constantly trying to draw out something Jakob has long kept buried, whether that's his sexuality or a murderous rage born from years of torment. Neither of the actors is particularly strong and some scenes are clumsily handled but this only contributes to the gutterheart sensibility of a film that is considerably more enjoyable than it ought to be. The technical work involved is superb and it looks really good for a microbudget indie, scoring high on atmosphere even when its narrative flounders.
Adding depth to the film is the fact that as the story develops, multiple possible readings emerge, and it becomes less clear what originates with the samurai and what comes from Jakob himself. There's also an interesting challenge to Jakob's suggestion that the innocent should be spared from harm. Is the wolf any less dangerous because of its innocence? The Samurai's classification of the townspeople as a empty vessels, however, hints at much darker things, and it's a shame it gets lost in standard movie psycho schtick. Although the film strives to be sharp, it is itself a little naive, a little hesitant to take things all the way.
Owing something to The Company Of Wolves, this is film which, like all the best queer cinema, bites off more than it can chew. Its success in winning over mainstream horror audiences, however, is testament to the fact it still has teeth.Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2015
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