Azumi | Chicago Reader

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Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus) adapted the eponymous manga about a shogun-era girl assassin as a pure action movie (2003), deliberately eschewing the soul-searching expected from traditional samurai films. The tone is bleak and the comic-book violence relentless, but the wirework and Yuta Morokaji's stunt choreography are impressive, culminating in a breathless showdown between the title character (Aya Ueto) and 200 foes. Darkly comic relief is provided by a trio of brigands and an androgynous maniac (scene-stealing Joe Odagiri of Bright Future), who, unlike the teen heroine and her cohorts, have vivid personalities. In Japanese with subtitles. 128 min.

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