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A film holding the title of Samurai Chicks certainly doesn't make me believe I'm about to see anything special. I was under the impression this was going to be one of those films that were light on plot and heavy on cleavage. Fortunately I was wrong and Samurai Chicks turned out to be a pretty decent independent effort.
Four girls are chosen out of their dance classes to advance to the expert program. The four are psyched for the opportunity to better their dancing abilities. These girls don't have the slightest idea that their lives are about to change forever. They've actually been recruited to be warriors with the sole purpose of fighting for independence from Japan. The Orion Dancers Academy is just a front for the whole operation. The agents inside what is referred to as 'The Kingdom' are all in disguise as singers and dancers.
A singer by the name of Cocoe sends assignments to agents of The Kingdom with secret messages encoded in music videos. The Samurai Chicks do well enough to be considered the cream of the crop. Unfortunately for them, the bad guys start to take notice in these girls and want them stopped immediately. The survival of The Kingdom is on the shoulders of these four girls. Are they ready for the challenge that awaits them? They were taught to completely throw away all of their emotions. Will a loss within their crew shake them enough to declare they've been defeated, or will they continue to fight?
Samurai Chicks has been the Official Selection of the Seoul Film Festival as well as the Asian Connection. For an independent film Samurai Chicks shows a lot of promise for director Mari Asato. There are a lot of techniques Mari uses to set the proper tone for many of the scenes. Earlier in the film there wasn't much I was impressed by. The choreography for the dance routines these girls had shown us was pretty bad. They were hardly in sync with one another and the dancing wasn't all that impressive. I know it's only an independent film but you need to make me believe in the story. If these girls don't look like they're great dancers, I'm not buying their acceptance into The Kingdom to become samurai's. Once the story started to show some depth later on in the film however, things started to fall into place pretty nicely. There clearly had been a lot of care in the organization of how the scenes were shot. Some good editing techniques as well as some great camera work really turned this film into something that was somewhat enjoyable.
As with most independent films there was a bit I found myself chuckling about. With some extra effort from the director, this film could have been very serious and even shocking at times. There was humor to be found in the acting abilities of some of the bad guys. The unintentional humor made for some nice contrast when compared to the shocking events that unfolded, but I felt that contrast wasn't needed. The events that were meant to leave me with my mouth hanging open were shocking enough. They didn't need any additional contrast. Samurai Chicks major fault is that it should have taken itself more seriously throughout the first half of the feature.
The Premiere Featurette shows director Mari Asato along with the actresses at their premiere. Mari Asato gives a brief introduction to Samurai Chicks where she discusses how this film was shot in only twelve days. It was a rough schedule to keep but they all ended up having fun in the end and can stand proud by their work.
Making Samurai Chicks shows us behind the scenes footage for this feature. We get to see some of the dance lessons these girls had taken, some fun in between takes, and some time speaking with the director in between shots as well.
Also included are some trailers for other rare Japanese films by independent filmmakers.
The special features included with Samurai Chicks are pretty short and don't offer a whole lot of insight into what truly went on behind the scenes. We get a very brief glimpse of the overall picture but that's about it.
This movie is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio that's not anamorphically enhanced. The black levels were never better than a dark gray, and there had been some minor grain throughout the feature. The picture was sharp however, and there isn't any edge enhancement to complain about. Colors were natural yet at times the picture seemed to look a little faded during daytime sequences.
We're given a Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese audio track that doesn't offer anything too spectacular. Dynamic range doesn't seem to exist on this title and the sound effects were weak. The English subtitles included had some errors as well. I don't understand Japanese and I certainly don't pretend to. One very obvious example was using the word 'they' at the beginning of a sentence when the word that should have been used was 'the'. There are a few examples like this throughout the weak dialogue we're given that stand out. It doesn't help this film any to look like they were lazy with the production of this DVD.
Samurai Chicks is a good independent effort that could have been even better if Mari Asato had more time to put it all together. With the filmmaking talent I've seen executed in this film, I'm sure Mari could have done even better if she didn't have so many time constraints during filming. Despite the fact I am cutting this film some slack because it's an independent feature, I still have to advise you skip this DVD. The extra features are pretty slim and although Samurai Chicks has some good stuff in the feature itself it's not enough for me to suggest a viewing to anyone.
-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check Bytesizeimpressions.com for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!