Westlake Entertainment // 2006 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Andis (Retired) // February 8th, 2008
Two legends meet. Their destiny awaits. This is the final showdown.
Martial arts fans will recognize the two names above the title on the cover of this DVD: Sonna Chiba and Yasuaki Kurata. DVD marketing fans of will recognize the old "bait and switch" after actually watching the movie.
Ono No Takamura is a demon from Hell who cannot afford a good-looking wig, and his anger causes him to be resurrected every twelve years to attempt to open the seal between Earth and Hell. The only thing standing in his way is Santoku (Yasuaki Kurata, Fist of Legend), one of two monks who survived the last attack by Takamura. Since the producers couldn't afford to pay for Kurata's salary for more than a couple of days, it's up to his young ward, Ayumi (Ayumi Kinoshita,Special Police Dekaranger), to find a new team of lower-paid young actors to defeat the goofily-bewigged demon.
Oh, and Sonny Chiba (Kill Bill) shows up in the last 15 minutes to kick some behind.
Legend of Seven Monks is definitely not the worst martial arts movie that you'll ever see. In terms of production values, it's competently shot and edited. While the music is nothing special, the soundtrack isn't bad at all. It also has to be said that the final fight with Chiba is pretty great, as is an opening melee with one of the Demon's minions taking on about a hundred opponents in what appears to be an unbroken 5-minute take.
However, the movie that happens in between those two fight scenes is flat-out boring. The character of Ayumi spends the majority of the movie finding her team and training them, and the tone in these sequences ranges from poorly done slapstick to offensive racial slurs to lousy anime homages. But at no time do we actually care a bit about these one-dimensional characters, nor are the actors able to bring much weight to their underwritten roles, nor does anything remotely interesting happen. The movie spends so much time not having fight scenes and not featuring Chiba and Kurata, the typical martial arts fan will lose interest quickly.
But let it be said that if you have a thing for watching young Japanese girls beat up people, then you definitely have something in common with the filmmakers and this might be your favorite film of the year.
The video and sound presentation quality is excellent, with non-removable English subtitles. Twelve chapters are provided, which is adequate. Extras include brief biographies and filmographies of Chiba, Kurata, and Kinoshita; two minutes of production stills; a trailer; and a 71-minute "Making Of" documentary from Japanese television with no English subtitles.
It bears repeating that the fight scenes at the beginning and end of the movie are really good. Shame about the rest of the movie.
You can't blame the filmmakers for the fact that the DVD cover pulls the old "bait-and-switch," but the rubbish that makes up the majority of it's running time means that this Legend won't be retold.
Guilty. The filmmakers are remanded into the custody of Sonny Chiba for some well-deserved discipline.
Review content copyright © 2008 Eric Andis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Westlake Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* English (Non-removable)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Theatrical Trailer
* Photo Gallery
* 71-Minute "Making Of" Documentary
* Official Site