Film Review – The Samurai (2014)

The samurai_Michel Diercks

Director Till Kleinert‘s accomplished fantasy horror defied many an expectation on the festival circuit and here it is ready to do the same on the UK home market.

Jakob (Michel Dierks) is a downtrodden police officer in a small minded German town. In between fulfilling his role of local laughing stock and whipping boy he becomes obsessed with a wolf hiding out in the woods.His tactic of hanging bags of meat from trees may indeed keep it away from the human populations collective door  but has it attracted something much more dangerous instead ?

Cue the arrival of one of the most striking and memorable characters in recent horror memory – a psychotic Samurai in a wedding dress. Played with unbridled gusto by Pit Bukowski ,all spittle and fruit machine eyes, he first impishly manipulates Jakob before embarking on a nasty yet subtlety shot rampage.

The whole film is pretty much one extended analogy so any plot details are really just sign posts on which to hang metaphors but the film is no less watchable for that. Intentionally or not i was reminded strongly throughout the picture of Neil Jordan’s seminal sexual awakening tale The Company Of Wolves in terms of both composition and thematic approach.

Nothing is ever as it seems in this film especially in terms of  it’s core themes.The conclusions drawn will be personal ones and the opinions formed will be debate starters.The importance sexuality plays in The Samurai is also refreshingly ambiguous,and it paints on a much wider cinematic canvas as a result.

The main high points here are the strong lead performances that manage to balance control delicately with mania,the gorgeously unconventional  cinematography and the films willingness to deploy the element of surprise.Not least ambushing this reviewer with a particularly graphic jolt at some thing  previously unseen at a 15 certificate level.

On the downside the ending will be seen as trite by some, a factor that is not helped by a closing song that would not be at all out of place at the end of an 80’s action flick – but maybe the joke is on me.

Categorizing films as so called “Queer Cinema” is redundant in my opinion.The sexuality of the film maker,target audience or indeed the characters is inconsequential.A movie should be judged entirely on merit no matter what it’s sexual origins or leanings and as such The Samurai can stand proud as a potent and beautiful example of cinema without compartments or stifling definitions.

Bradley Hadcroft

Genre: Fantasy, horror Distributor:Peccadillo Pictures  Release Date: On DVD & On-Demand: 13th April 2015 Rating : 15 Director :  Till Kleinert Cast: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uwe Preuss.Buy:The Samurai [DVD]

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