This war­rior’s tale quickly loses edge

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Michael Recht­shaf­fen

The son of a 16th cen­tury mas­ter steel-maker is torn be­tween fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps or forg­ing his own path as a war­rior in the vis­ually gal­va­niz­ing but dra­mat­i­cally leaden “Tatara Sa­mu­rai.”

Groomed to be his vil­lage’s next murage —a black­smith skilled in the smelt­ing of iron-en­riched sand into a rare rust­proof steel — Go­suke (Shô Aoy­agi) in­stead heeds a per­sonal call­ing to be­come a sa­mu­rai af­ter vi­cious at­tacks on his peo­ple by clans cov­et­ing the pre­cious com­mod­ity.

De­spite his in­ten­tions, he soon learns of the costs that can be in­curred when chal­leng­ing one’s des­tiny.

Al­though film­maker Yoshi­nari Nishikôri has pain­stak­ingly re-cre­ated that time-hon­ored steel-mak­ing process with an al­most fetishis­tic at­ten­tion to de­tail, a qual­ity he also ex­tends to the de­pic­tion of more com­mon as­pects of daily life in 1567 Ja­pan, it’s un­for­tu­nate he didn’t de­vote an equal amount of ef­fort to craft­ing a story wor­thy of all that rit­u­al­ized pre­ci­sion.

Even with 15 min­utes ex­cised from its orig­i­nal run­ning time and its stir­ring pho­tog­ra­phy and good act­ing, the film fails to de­liver on a sense of mount­ing ten­sion or con­vinc­ingly staged bat­tle se­quences.

Un­like those vivid, molten streams that will ul­ti­mately be trans­formed and crafted into the most per­fect of sword blades and mus­ket bar­rels, “Tatara Sa­mu­rai” fails to catch fire.

“Tatara Sa­mu­rai.” In Ja­panese with English sub­ti­tles. No rat­ing. Run­ning time: 2 hours. Play­ing: Re­gal LA Live Sta­dium 14, Los An­ge­les; Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts The­atre, Bev­erly Hills.

Ko Mori Eleven Arts

NO MAT­TER how hard you gal­lop, you can’t es­cape a dull movie, even one with fine act­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy.

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