Synopsis from Midnight Eye: A sumptuous and at times super-charged swordplay fantasy, Gojoe puts the spin on one of Japan’s most popular feudal legends: the battle at Kyoto’s Gojoe Bridge. Though its multitude of characters and warring factions might make Gojoe somewhat confusing to Western eyes, the basic storyline is simple: warriors of the Heike clan get their heads chopped off by an invisible force at Gojoe bridge. Benkei, a former Buddhist monk plagued by the demons of his own past, sets out to destroy the evil force that lurks at Gojoe, aided by his graverobbing sidekick Tetsukichi. They soon discover that the perpetrator is in fact a young warrior, a former lord named Shanao, out for revenge against the clan that ordered the death of his family.
The fact that Sogo Ishii, the creator of such contemporary punk masterpieces as Burst City (Bakuretsu Toshi, 1982) and Crazy Thunder Road (Kuruizaki Sandaa Rodo, 1980) is at the helm should be an indication that this is not your average swords-and-kimonos adventure. Gojoe plays less like a jidai geki than a true Ishii film in period garb. Elements and themes from his films from the 1990s – spiritualism, the metaphysical, man being a small but essential part of the greater cosmic scheme – are combined with a resurgence of the boundless energy of his work from the 80s.
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