Afro Samurai: Resurrection

USA/Japan 2009
Director: Fuminori Kizaki
Voices: Samuel L. Jackson, Lucy Liu, Mark Hamill
IMDB: 8.0

Afro Samurai is a great concept that made its first appearance on SpikeTV a few years back. Since then a mini-series was made, and this is the sequel to that. Although I haven't seen the first series, this did not seem to be a hindrance to understanding the plot.

Afro Samurai, voiced by Samuel L.Jackson, is an african-american dude with an outrageous afro and sideburns who looks like he's straight out of a 1970's blaxploitation movie. Sauntering around the place with a joint dangling from his mouth, he also has the stoic cool of a Japanese Samurai, striking appropriate samurai stances at every opportunity.

Unfortunately his arch-nemesis, Lady Sio (voiced by Lucy Liu) intends to bring him to justice for all the killing he did (presumably in the first series). She digs up his father's skull and with the aid of a mad-scientist re-animates and tortures him in order to draw Afro into a fight. In order to fight her however, Afro must first find and kill the holder of the #2 Headband... which will in turn give him the right to fight Lady Sio, as she is the holder of the #1 Headband.

My assumption is that this whole headband thing is a samurai code of honour and ranking system, likely explained in the first series.

The movie is an interesting blend of Japanese and African-American cultures ... the samurais sporting gold bling and a pumping rap soundtrack put together by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Involving RZA on the soundtrack was a great idea, although he's certainly done better work. Still, this movie will give your sub a nice workout.

Although I've yet to become a fan of Japanese anime, I have to say that the artwork, created in Japan, was of a very high quality. The styling looks straight out of a graphic novel, with some amazing scenes and a very colourful palette.

While the story is fairly basic, the unique blend of cultures is a great idea, and often quite funny. Of course being a samurai movie it is also very violent, and the overall theme is thankfully adult in nature - even though I have only seen the tv edit. I look forward to seeing the unrated cut which apparently features a lot more sex and violence. The only letdown for me was the annoying side-character of Ninja Ninja, who had a propensity for spouting cliche jive talk bordering on the inane.

Its interesting to note that even though you don't see the voice actors in the flesh, they chose actors who could easily be cast in their roles if this was a live action movie. In fact, I hope they decide to do that. Samuel L Jackson and Lucy Liu facing off in an Afro Samurai Live Action epic would be awesome!

Rating: 7/10

Screenshots - click to enlarge

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