I'm a slant! If you were trying to get at a menu item, I think you missed.
Polling is closed! Temporarily.

Link with this!
You have many luck!

Flying Snakes and Centipede Ladies in a World Gone Mad!

by Nathan - November 25th, 2003

Now that Quentin Tarantino's bloody revenge epic Kill Bill has established itself as a critical and commercial success, much attention has been turned to the actor who arguably played the most pivotal role in the film - Sonny Chiba. Yes, his turn as Hattori Hanzo has cemented him in the hearts and minds of many and has virutally guaranteed him a seat on the only spaceship to escape earth if it ever explodes.

Unfortunately for those millions who worship the very ground he so much as glances at, little is known about his past before his work for Tarantino. Is he really a swordsmith? Does he have a lazy employee who cares only for his soap operas? I personally found myself asking these very questions, and my reaction was that of great surprise and delight when I found an exceptionally-priced DVD two-pack featuring an earlier film of his, entitled Legend of Eight Samurai.

This article shall attempt to give an accurate and detailed report on the movie, and who knows? The reader may even discover the true meaning of friendship along the way. Additionally, it should be known that the first two paragraphs about Sonny Chiba are bunk, and even though he's apparently in this movie, I'm actually not sure where. Sorry!

Titles. Not even a little evil.

The movie opens with a title sequence that is set to a completely rocking song and shown against the backdrop of that background behind the main title, only zoomed in at random. Sadly, that awesome song ends just when it's getting really good, but there you are.

From there we are taken to the Castle Gloomy (it isn't really named, so I thought I would) where it is revealed that the Evil People have collected all the heads of the Satomi clan except for that most important one, that of the princess. The Evil People, one of whom is named Motofuji, but it isn't like either of us can remember that so I'll just call him Son #1, take the blood they've collected and offer it to a huge sculpture thing in a nearby cave. This is evidently the Eternal Sprit, and Evil Lady (that's Son #1's mom) says that they'll have the princess soon. Smells like a fiercely thickening plot!

Evil Lady. Entirely evil.

Meanwhile, the Princess, a fake-Princess and some elderly man are hanging out in a shack in the woods, hiding. He offers her food that she doesn't want (rightfully so - it looks awful) and then they set out on foot to the neighboring kingdom for help. Unfortunately, they are run down by the Bad People's Soldiers in the Incredibly Blue Mountains - the old man is slain, and the fake-Princess is captured, with the real one off to the side somewheres swearing revenge.

They drag fake-Princess back to the cave where they outline their plan to continue being evil by sacrificing her. They make vague threats and start cutting her face, because apparently Son #1 needed reconstructive surgery after having been caught in a fire set to their castle many years ago, and he just never lost the taste for cutting up chicks. It is discovered that they do not have the real princess and much anger ensues while she is unfortunately slain as well.

Son #1. Kind of evil, I guess.

Jump-cut to a completely different scene in a forest as some dude rides a horse - and a pretty sweet guitar riff at the same time. His name is Shinbei, and he barrells into Green Village (looking at my notes, I can't tell if that's the name or if I made it up) where the villagers mock him and he discovers his father is dead. He goes to the grave and cries for awhile until he spots the real Princess in the nearby woods. He corners her in a hut but for some reason completely fails to realize that she is a female, and he tells her to leave. As she walks away, though, the suggestive way in which her ass wobbles tips him off!

I sort of wish I was making that up, but I'm not.

So he tussles with her until some guys in white show up and beat the hell out of Shinbei because he is an ass. Apparently these two fellows, named Daikaku and Dosetsu (again, not like it matters) are apparently descendants of the Princess' family retainers and are there to help. They take off with the Princess, leaving Shinbei alone. However, he discovers there is a reward being offered by the Bad Guys for her capture, so he sets out in pursuit.

Daisomething and Dowhatever. Not evil.

Having succesfully defeated the idiot Shinbei, the three good people sit around the campfire to unleash the Scroll of Exposition, a sacred document that explains most of the backstory. Nothing in the movie up to this point had really prepared me for how weird the story was about to get, however.

It seems that one hundred years ago, the Princess' ancestors raided Castle Gloomy and set fire to it with the Evil People inside. Unfortunately, through a dark pact with that spirit in the cave, Evil Lady put a dreadful curse on the Princess' family, and doesn't actually die, along with Son #1. The good Emperor, who is mightily distressed at this development, has a fit of desparation and promises the Princess (not our princess, her ancestor, I guess) to the freaking castle dog if the dog can bring back the head of some bad dude named Fuji.

He does.

The Princess believes that a promise is a promise and, in the movie's words, "gives herself to him", a sentence I don't even want to think of the ramifications of. They run away together and she tames the dog with her flute. Of course, the royal family is extraordinarily upset that she's done this, so they set out to assassinate the dog. While attempting to shoot it, the princess blocks the shot and takes a few dozen arrows for the team. Eight crystals fly out of her body (I know, I know - why?) and the princess, before dying, promises everyone that those crystals will become cool ninja people who will lift the curse in a hundred years' time.

Dude and Other Dude, in the present, then reveal their crystals - heh heh, double meaning - and give the princess that very same flute mentioned in the Scroll of Exposition. They explain that Evil Lady's soldiers are all ghosts and only the eight ninjas can kick their collective asses, and so it is agreed that they must find the remaining six. We are then brought back to the Evil Cave, where essentially the same story is told and the very same warrior ghosts are dispatched to prevent this Fellowship from ever coming together.

Okay, I should clarify at this point - the movie is called Legend of Eight Samurai, but the movie constantly refers to them as eight Ninja. Since that is easier to type, I am going with Ninja.

Snake Lady. Seemingly evil, or is she?

The movie now inexplicably moves to a wedding scene, which is interrupted when the groom is assassinated by the Snake Lady. The bride's brother, Shiro, tries to catch her, but fails and is kicked around a bit. In the resulting confusion, the bride is killed, but not before suddenly fading away and leaving behind Shino's special crystal dealiewhacker. The Snake Lady goes to pick up her reward and in a small but pivotal scene reveals that she also has a crystal.

The movie jumps again to follow Shinbei around as he swings through a forest. Like, on vines and stuff. He is confronted by the Evil Lady for reasons that are not clear, and then he finds a corpse, for reasons which are also not clear.

Corpse. Not evil, on account of being dead.

Pretty much everyone we've seen with a crystal thus far coincidentally converges on a temple in the forest, where they meet & greet. A mother of one of the Ninjas returns while they are talking, acts very strange, and suddenly tears off her face and turns into a gigantic Centipede. I'm not sure if this is a common occurence in feudal Japan, but somehow it seems like it might be. One ninja declares "She's not your mother!" ("no shit", replies audience) and a fight ensues.

Oh! It just occured to me that the corpse is the real mother. Nevermind.

The Crystals save the day by shooting the centipede until it turns to goo, and the Evil Lady, who was watching nearby, ages perceptibly after their use. She flees to the Castle Gloomy where she bathes in blood to restore her 'good' looks. Even though she is naked, this scene sets the tone for all of the startingly un-erotic scenes in the movie.

Naked ladies. Not normally evil, but the blood changes things.

After doing this she goes and checks with the staff Wizard, who has created many beautiful ladies that are incredibly poisonous. This doesn't pay off until way later, so pay attention.

On the other side of events, the Ninja are travelling through the forest when they fall for Shinbei's cunning trap and he kidnaps the princess. Were I the Princess, I would have basically lost all hope for my Ninja right there - Shinbei is a moron, and if they can't even defend her from him, then how can they hope to succeed against real Evil People? Anyway, after some tom-foolery in the forest, Shinbei and Princess return to Green Village, which has recently been destroyed by Evil Lady's forces. They watch as some children are mercilessly killed by the bad soldiers, who return, and Shinbei and Princess are chased into a nearby cave.

They are then confronted by many Gollum-esque freaks that the Princess calms with her flute, who then part way for a little boy and a Giant that also turn out to have crystals. They leave and hook up with the remaining Ninjas, who decide that Shinbei must be killed as he is following them and generally being annoying. I dunno, I kinda thought they were the good guys, but to just kill a dude? Yikes.

They try, but ultimately fail - which, if I were the Princess, I think I'd take that as a pretty bad sign as well - and he rolls down a hill, only to be captured by the Bad People, who take him to Castle Gloomy. Evil Lady and Son #1 then mercilessly play mindgames with Shinbei by telling him he is Son #2, and therefore quite evil. They take him down to the Pool Of Blood and Shinbei starts wigging out a little bit, but he recovers and starts playing the Princess' flute (though I haven't the slightest idea how he got it). It is apparently a Flute of Melodramatic Inducement, as it causes Evil Lady to start seriously freaking out and not have any fun at all.

Castle Gloomy. Pretty evil, what with the red and all.

Son #1 takes it upon himself to stop all this craziness and stabs the hell out of Shinbei, who really hasn't had that much of a good time in the movie thus far. His body is then handed over to the staff Wizard, who is placed in charge of fixing him up and making him evil like them. While this is going on, we return to the Princess and her Ninja as they rest in the mountains. They explain that there are two Ninja still missing and it is of course very imperative that they are found, lest they rush Castle Gloomy shortstaffed.

Back in the Castle, a rogue castle guard apparently takes it upon himself to rush the Wizard's lair and stab him, while rescuing Shinbei. He takes Shinbei to where the Ninja are camped in the mountains and introduces himself as Genpachi, though it isn't like any of them really care at this point either. Apparently, Shinbei's flute "woke something deep within him" and he turned to the good side, even though they are all supposed to be evil ghosts working at the Castle. I guess not...?

Shinbei, however, will have none of this happiness and wakes up evil. He starts fighting with all the Ninja who are really ready to kill him this time until the Princess stops them. She thinks they can reason with him, but reason is evidently thrown to the wind when he is struck by lighting anyway. According to the logic of this movie, lightning is an excellent way to cure evil, as he wakes up just fine. The rest of the Ninjas head into a nearby cave for the night, and the Princess admits that she truly loves him. Being night, of course, it's time to prove it. Bow-chicka-wow-wowww...

Making out. Typically not evil.

Actually, it may or may not surprise you to know that the screen capture seen here is really the most erotic that this love scene ever gets. For a few minutes, we are treated to a number of blurry, very-close-up shots of them kissing and groping each other, while in the background some statues light up. They wake up the next morning, only to be attacked by a gigantic snake that wraps himself around the princess and flies off. Dinger, huh?

Turns out that the snake is in the employ of the Evil People, who laugh hysterically on a nearby hilltop because they have the Princess, and laughing evilly is just what evil people do. The Ninja get their crystals together and summon some weird multi-armed and almost-totally-obscured-by-special-effects lady who hands them a magic bow and basically tells them to go kick some ass.

Glowing things with arms. Probably evil.

There is a catch. Apparently only the Princess can draw the bow, which seems awfully useless, and it must be used to dispatch the Evil Lady, which is obvious. So it is that they set out for the endgame.

They arrive at the castle without even an ounce of stealth, and gradually make their way through, killing many, many people and one by one dying their own heroic deaths. Eventually, only Shinbei remains in the upper chamber with the Princes and the Evil Lady. Of course, the mortal blow is heroically struck, and since all evil tyrants are naturally load-bearing, the castle collapses in her wake. Shinbei and the Princess escape just before the castle explodes violently, (which seems odd, as it was made of stone).

Getting an arrow to the boob - evil or not, depending on which side of the arrow you're on.

The movie goes into the prologue which is unfortunately far too long and of course ends with Shinbei and the Princess riding off into the sunset and many sexy adventures, to be sure.

Overall the movie was pretty entertaining and contained many strange plot twists, like Princesses falling in love with dogs, old ladies that turn into centipides, humongous flying snakes, and much killing at the end. I can certainly imagine worse things than having to watch it again, and for my part, that's the nicest thing I can probably say about this kind of movie.

Now, having said all that, it's super bonus time!

First - HERE is my original text file of notes that I made while watching the movie. These are really stream-of-consciousness, hard to understand, and possibly funnier than this entire article. (18 kb)

Second - HERE is an MP3 of the title theme, which is incredibly out of place for the rest of the movie, and rocks pretty hard in that sort of way that it actually doesn't. Enjoy! (1.86mb)

E-Mail/MSN: monster-0@alucentral.ca

MAGIC STORY TIME: To rip off that Subway advertisement, "Updated infrequently so you don't have to be!"

Previous <-
Archive: 1

NinjaCulture Fan Testimonials

NinjaCulture 2002-03 (E-mail) : Disclaimer : All media is property of their respective copyright holders
No portion of NinjaCulture may be re-printed without prior consent