Upon returning from a pilgrimage across Japan, the warrior Toramaru arrives with tales of seven epic battles against Japan’s most legendary fighters. As Toramaru’s philosophy dictates that he ’know the enemy by eating his food, ’ each masterfully-choreographed fight is preceded by a helping of his prey’s favorite dish.
“Bushido Man” is a parody and judging by the movie’s artwork, there is nothing to suggest it is a farce so kudos to the filmmakers for actually marketing the movie as a martial arts extravaganza and keeping that aspect of it hidden until you start watching it. As the movie began, it wasn’t initially apparent it was a satire so when the titular character Toramaru (Mitsuki Koga), has his very first fight, I gradually detected that it had to be a spoof and as the film unspooled, that’s exactly what it became.
Toramaru has just returned from a pilgrimage across Japan after having fought seven epic battles with some of the country’s most famed fighters and he proceeds to tell his appointed successor Master Gensai (Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi) about the conflicts. We see each brawl in flashback and by fighting these warriors, Toramaru not only gains their infinite scrolls of wisdom but also each challenger’s unique martial arts ability, whether it be stick fighting, the art of nunchakus or sword-fighting. That is of course, until Gensai tricks Toramaru and takes said scrolls as they are worth a lot of money. Then master and student must have one final fight: against each other.
I love parodies, when done correctly, they can be hilarious. One of Val Kilmer’s very first movies was called “Top Secret” and was made by the filmmakers who also produced the “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” films. “Top Secret” was set during World War II and had some absolutely brilliant set-pieces and sight gags. “Bushido Man” is very clever in as much as it never pretends that it is satirical, instead, the movie and indeed the actors, play everything straight-faced, like Leslie Nielsen did throughout most of his career. I never came across any laugh-out-loud moments but there was certainly more than enough ridiculousness to keep even the most rigid viewers engaged.
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