Gojoe was the film that awakened me to the full possibilities of modern Japanese cinema, an epic with both eye-filling spectacle and a thoughtful story. The first time I saw Gojoe I was a little too overwhelmed, and had to sort out my feelings over a second viewing. Then I remembered I had been similarly stunned by Blade Runner, which has such sights to spare that the first time you see it, it's almost impossible to assimilate the story anyway. Gojoe works as a lavish adventure fantasy, but also breaks from many samurai movie traditions to posit a revisionist twist on a by-now-shopworn legend.
Gojoe is set in 12th-century medieval Japan, just after the warring factions of the Heike and Genji clans decimated each other. "Gojoe" itself is not the name of a person, but is actually a bridge not far from the capital, Kyoto, where a number of Heike soldiers are murdered by what seems to be an otherworldly force. At the same time, a Buddhist monk, Benkei (Daisuke Ryu) and his superior, Ajari, are concerned about an oracular prophecy predicting the arrival of a terrible evil (as confirmed by a comet streaking through the heavens).Read more