On the edge of a dark forest, where the fear of wolves prevents locals from straying too far from home, a young police officer, Jakob unknowingly delivers a samurai sword to a wild-eyed man in a wedding dress. The stranger entices him to participate in a bloody crusade through the village.
Till Kleinert’s genre debut is a mashup of different genres but at it’s heart it is a thriller delivered with intensity. A whimsical nightmare, The Samurai is an impressive film from Kleinert which is laden with symbolism and an abundance of genre elements that will keep horror fans intrigued and engaged.
The film is told from the perspective of Jakob, a young police officer who is clearly struggling with who he is. The role is played by Michel Diercks and the audience is taken along on his journey as he stoically follows The Samurai (Pit Bukowski) as he wrecks havoc on an otherwise peaceful East German village. Underpinned by homo-erotic undertones, The Samurai has been described as a gay liberation film. Some may think that this applies to the cross dressing samurai but in fact the liberation comes from Michel Diercks’ character as he goes on a journey of self-discovery and realisation but not in the way that you might think.
The Samurai is an incredibly dark film that is full of mystery. It held my attention from the very start and is certainly like no other film that I have seen before. Kleniert’s direction is fantastic. He gives the film a moody atmosphere and the dimly lit cinematography is delicious and I was quite happy to sit and chew every tasty morsel that was thrown my way. Playing the titular character, Pit Bukowski is fantastic in the role of The Samurai. His performance of the cross-dressing kitana-wielding stranger is played aloof and with aggression. Polar opposite to him is Michel Diercks’ Jakob, whom despite being the lead of the film, is more reserved and quiet in comparison. Both men play their parts with gusto and work incredibly well together.
I have no doubts that some audiences out may not like this film on account of the film’s use of pacing and the amount of symbolism but I personally couldn’t get enough. I thought it’s plot was intriguing, the film looks terrific and the acting was sound. I found myself drawn into its wormhole of mystery wanting to know desperately what was going to happen next. Overall, The Samurai is an intriguing slow-burning thriller on its most basic level but underneath becomes a fascinating character piece about repression and the fear of the unknown.
Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)