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Onmyoji (2001)

Cast: Mansai Nomura, Hideaki Ito, Hiroyuki Sanada, more...
Director: Yojiro Takita
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Pioneer Entertaiment
Genre: Action, Foreign, Japan
Running Time: 116 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

During a Dark Age of demons and ghosts, the Heian Emperor relies upon the imperial order of the Onmyoji to protect the kingdom. However, as the birth of the Emperor's heir approaches, political intrigue and jealousy will lead to the most dangerous of betrayal from within the Onmyoji and the Emperor's family! It will be up to the most talented of the order, Seimei, to face his master, Doson, and the dark magic that threatens to destroy them all!

GreenCine Member Reviews

Live-action magical folk tale for anime fans and Japanophiles by kinsugi January 19, 2005 - 12:37 AM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
If you love dark fairy tales, travel back a thousand years, to a time when people lived among vengeful spirits, magical creatures, and the dark machinations of evil men, and the emperor of Japan was protected by sorcerers wielding sinister powers.

Anime fans who enjoyed Clamp's X:1999 and Tokyo Babylon, the gods of death in Yami No Matsuei (Descendants of Darkness), historical drama and archaic Japanese in Rurouni Kenshin, or the Go master Sai in Hikaru No Go, will have a great time seeing parts of your anime worlds come to life.

Onmyoji is neither a high-budget Hollywood special effects extravaganza nor a Chinese "wire-fu" demonstration of exaggerated martial arts. Rather, it's a live action magical folk tale, recreating a mythological world respectfully and accurately, and bringing specifically Japanese archetypes to life.

Spend some time among Onmyoji, powerful wizards; shikigami, magical shapeshifters; early samurai in perfect armor; and beautiful men and women dressed in gorgeous, meticulously recreated Heian period attire.

See evil sorcerers and possessed victims, handled with flair by a hero with a sense of humor. Meet his young, bumbling sidekick from a good family, who plays a mean flute, wields an ineffective sword, and watches the magic with innocent awe, gradually evolving into more mature nobility. See spells being cast through spoken words or calligraphy and symbols, written on bodies, walls, or fuda, strips of paper imbued with power as the onmyoji wields his brush.

Casting is perfect, especially the lead, Mansai Normura, who brings Seimei to life with the lift of a nonchalant eyebrow and a small, assured smile, as he exorcises demons and reveals enemies. The film's primary failing is a cheesy battle with demons late in the story; it's laughably bad. Otherwise, special effects were used effectively, if minimally (probably budgetary limitations), and what little wire-work was needed by Seimei in his final battle was appropriate.

If you are intrigued, rent Onmyoji. Please listen to the voices of the well-known Japanese actors rather than the dub. Bring Japanese snacks, perhaps chocolate Pocky, or onigiri, the popular rice balls seen in so many Japanese anime. Have fun!

Weak magical wire-fu wannabe with Japanese actors by hneline1 December 10, 2003 - 8:23 PM PST
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I'm not impressed. Is it just me or is this really a weak magical wire-fu wannabe with Japanese actors? Sure, the costuming and settings are beautiful. There are some fun fantastical elements. The characters are appropriately stereotypical. But if this film is trying to match the athleticism, inventive twists, comedy, mysticism, melodrama and just plain hokeyness of the classic wire-fu movies, it falls short. And if it's not trying to match those things, it falls very short.

Highly anticipated--really blows by JBellows October 21, 2003 - 10:19 PM PDT
4 out of 12 members found this review helpful
This highly touted import shown at all the requisite film festivals, shown at the indie theaters in San Fran, touted as an exploration of fairly accurate Japanese mysticism within a mystery is really...a cheap magic flick. I'm sorry, I feel I have an appreciation of foreign films, I will give many films the benefit of the doubt, but this movie is just such an awful waste of time (and of talent, they have some serious fire power in this one) that I discourage you from you renting this. Instead, for laughs, see the villain in Versus, the hero in any flower drama. You'll your subscription's worth this way.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.76)
59 Votes
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