“Sword of The Stranger” (2007) by Masahiro Andō

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Sword of The Stranger (Masahiro Ando, Studio Bones) is a movie that doesn’t hide its’ love for riveting fight scenes and traditional themes of kinship. What it delivers are low-key main characters who speak through actions and fortify them through dialogue and well-animated gestures.

The story follows Nanashi, a swordsman, as he meets a young boy who’s eluding a small group of Ming warriors. What it does best is achieving a balance between traditional themes and enough sincerity in its’ story to not be classified as just another movie with samurais. It doesn’t aim to be a philosophical movie but it’s certainly not one without depth. Its portrayal of bonds between men of different ages, nations and sides is of notable pleasure to pay attention to (undoubtedly the main focus and purpose of the film).

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One of the more prominent characters in the movie is a blue-eyed, blond man amongst a group of Ming warriors. The movie is admirably not about a gimmick or the obvious contrast of putting a Westerner to act as a decidedly very Chinese man. The term “Chinese” is applied in this movie as a nationality, instead of a race. It faintly explores of how your racial physical appearance can be a mere shell as your personality reflects the ideology, memory and aspects of the culture you nourish/malnourish yourself on. This theme carries on and trickles down to the film’s idea of bonds that are forged in a turbulent, local event. Rest easy in knowing that the protagonist isn’t any less interesting by a bit. Highlight text to reveal spoiler: The main character is revealed to be reddish brown-haired. This might be a reference either to early labels for foreigners/strangers or an obscure reference of Chinese tribes that actually have reddish-brown hair.

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If you’re a fan of great hand-drawn animated sequences, Sword of The Stranger delivers in spades. Some of the most stunning and character-specific gestures are present. Those fond of Wuxia fight sequences and Samurai duels will be pleased by what it has to offer and I suspect won’t find this brand of raw action in any live-action movie anytime soon. The gorgeous hand-drawn animation lends itself to realistic impacts and weight amidst all the nigh-impossible maneuvers George Lucas can only hallucinate about.

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In this odd age now where people feel like they’ve to be punished in order to feel like the movie has some deeper message to deliver, Sword of The Stranger delivers a solid reminder that good, straightforward fun can still be deserving of artistic merit or accolade.

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Posted Monday, April 20th, 2009 under Film.

6 comments

  1. This is the kind of movie i’ve been waiting for: a beautifully drawn, super violent anime with a solid story and incredibly dynamic action scenarios.

    The story was also surprisingly thoughtful. It’s one of the few movies I’ve seen that explores the difference between belonging to an ethnicity vs a nationality. And it does so while delivering kick ass fights!

  2. Stepfan says:

    And I was the one who found it. Gave it to lateef but he doesn’t trust my taste. But I’m glad you and Richmond enjoyed it when yall came down for spring break. Miss you guys and take care.

  3. @Stepfan: Hey man, glad you found my blog! Yeah, thanks for showing that to us. We miss you guys too!

    @Richmond: I need to get that certain DVD I want to review from you so I can put my love for that movie out in the world-wide-web.

  4. Yes!

    I have it full HD, this movie is excellent!!!

    nice script, nice art, nice story, very nice art.

  5. Agreed. I just watched this again recently and had to give it a shout out on my blog too. I really like your descriptive review, so I’m adding a link to this site as a related article. Nice work.

  6. @Radel: It is a very excellent movie! It’s straightforward and still subtle, with very exciting scenes. I don’t think I’ve seen it in blu-ray yet though!

    @SixShadesofCool: Thanks for the shout-out! I am checking out the other contents of your cool site at the moment!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

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