Samurai Marathon Bonus

The Bluray and DVD collector’s editions for Samurai Marathon include a bonus disc which is really worth the extra money: superb making of documentary, premiere event report and various interviews. (Amazon Japan – CD Japan)

The atmosphere of involvement, complicity and good humor from the cast, which pervades the Making of Documentary, can also be felt in the 3SHOT Interview with Takeru Satou, Mirai Moriyama and Nana Komatsu.

The actors are asked about difficult scenes, things they had to care or worry about and if Bernard Rose, being a foreign director, was different from Japanese directors. We get the impression that the shooting was exciting and enjoyable but rather demanding both physically and mentally. For instance, Mirai Moriyama recalls the water he had to swim in was awfully cold.

Takeru Satou had no problem running with others but he was asked to deliver extra speed when he was on his own. Nana Komatsu was a bit worried about her kimono (a very valuable and unique piece) not getting dirty or wet, quite an issue when one considers weather conditions in Japan (end of summer, early fall). The three actors portray director Bernard Rose as a nice and benevolent man who relies a lot on his actors’ ability to be spontaneous.



The interview ends in a rather relax and casual way as we learn that Mirai Moriyama intends to learn the French language (he likes the sound of it) and Nana Komatsu wants to cycle around the entire island of Taiwan 🙂

US Webzine Interview

On June 28, Nana Komatsu was in New York to attend the US Premiere of Samurai Marathon and receive a Rising Asia Star Award. During that special night at the 18th New York Asian Film Festival she was interviewed by several English speaking magazines.

One of the interviewers was the webmaster of The Diva Review. Nana Komatsu, whom she describes as “a delightful person”, kindly answers a set of pretty interesting questions. Below is a collection of selected excerpts, you will find the whole interview on their site: Nana Komatsu Exclusive Interview.


Q1-What attracted you to the role of Yukihime, the princess of the film?

When I first read the script, in that kind of period, it was a society where women would do the housework, and men were the strong ones, and women had to cater to men; but in that environment, Yukihime, she does what she likes. She pursues her interest in western things, and she sticks to that. She pursues her interest in the world with great curiosity, which was something that I really related to. So through this role, I hoped that I could portray a strong woman to women worldwide.

Q3-You have a lot of action in this film, including so much running, as one would expect from the title. You also get to have some fight scenes. Tell us about the physical challenges of the role?

It was actually my first time doing fight choreography, as well as horseback riding, but I really loved it (…) when I was playing Yukihime in her kimono, I wanted to be elegant, almost dancelike with the fighting, but when it was her in disguise as Kumanosuke, I wanted to be powerful and strong (…) I really enjoyed it, and would love to do more.

Q4-Are you drawn to unorthodox characters? Do you ever hesitate about playing someone too crazy or dark because of the effect it might have on your fans, or your other work as a model?

With my first role in THE WORLD OF KANAKO, actually, the image of being kind of darker and cool kind of stuck with me, initially, after doing that role, I thought. But afterwards, I got to do more kind of pure, maybe expressionless, but with lots of feeling, sometimes awkward, cute, varied kinds of roles. So, I’ve been lucky to do all these kinds of roles, and I haven’t been bored …

Q7-Has this experience working with Director Rose, and your previous collaboration with Martin Scorsese made you want to try working with filmmakers in the west?

I would love to, if there were any opportunities while I’m young, but also, even if I’m not young, to kind of break out. Japanese films made in Japan have their own beauty; they are wonderful, but working with these different directors, I find really inspiring. There are new kinds of discoveries, and also, being in an environment where everything is in English, of course, doesn’t happen on Japanese sets. It wasn’t that I understood everything, but it felt really fun for me …

Samurai Marathon Q&A

On Friday June 28, Samurai Marathon opened the 18th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. Director Bernard Rose was there and the film’s lead actress, Nana Komatsu, graced the evening with her presence. She had come to New York to attend the US Premiere and receive a Rising Star Award.

A couple of weeks ago, Film Lincoln Center released the video of the Q&A session. Director Bernard Rose has a pretty good sense of humour and both he and his lead actress tell a few interesting things about filming and directing in Japan.



Marathon Girl Yuki Hime

Samurai Marathon 1855 is definitely a bold take on the genre with unexpected yet thoroughly enjoyable elements of comedy. There is action too, especially when Jinnai (Takeru Satoh), Heikuro (Mirai Moriyama) and Princess Yuki Hime (Nana Komatsu) get tough on the baddies.

The film is also a must watch for the journey you get through the beautiful landscapes of the Yamagata Prefecture: kudos to Takuro Ishizaka, director of photography whose work is matched by a haunting score written by Philip Glass. For Nana Komatsu fans, it is a ‘must-not-miss’. As Princess Yuki Hime, one of the modernistic elements of the movie, she looks proud, brave and beautiful.

Here is a special post with screencaps and short clips from the film and the making of documentary. The bonus disc* is a real treat: Amazon Japan – CD Japan. *only available in the collector’s editions.



Lord Itakura’s daughter


Jinnai and Yuki Hime


hanway films promo clip


(English Subs)

running and fighting

SEE AND WATCH MORE: clips and screencaps

Samurai Marathon DVD

Bernard Rose‘s movie DVD was released in Japan on Wednesday 24 July. It is available as a standard edition or deluxe edition either on DVD or Blu-ray: Amazon JapanCD Japan. Below you’ll find selected excerpts from film reviews -with links to the original articles- illustrated with selected screen caps of Nana Komatsu as Yuki Hime.


“Our opener was a big hit, and one of our biggest opening films since Bad Genius[in 2017]. This is quite possibly the best “chambara” / samurai film I’ve seen since Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins; it’s a bit of a paradox that an Englishman directed it, but maybe a sign that cinema can truly be without borders sometimes.” Samuel Jamier, director of the New York Asian Film Festival (source)


Eastern Kicks: “Samurai Marathon is a wonderful narrative about a less known historical fact – the first Japanese marathon. While this historical event had no true effect in the unfolding of history, Samurai Marathon succeeds, by intermingling various narrative threads into an effective narrative structure and allowing dramatic musical pieces support its unfolding, in turning this event into an exciting jidaigeki narrative. Rose might have created a somewhat atypically packaged jidaigeki, but it provides everything one should expect of a contemporary mainstream example of the genre.”

The ensemble cast is successful in supporting the framing of the historical context. Hiroki Hasegawa’s performance brings his inner-conflict believably to the fore. Naoto Takenaka, for that matter, infuses all his grandfather charm in his role as retired samurai guard. And Nana Komatsu underlines, especially through her fighting sequences, her versatility as an actress.


Asian Movie Pulse: “Apart from the performances of his cast, most importantly Nana Komatsu and Takeruh Sato, one of the great positives of the film is the visualization of the marathon itself. Using parallel montages of the approaching assassins, Rose and cinematographer Takuro Ishikaza highlight the dynamics and dramatic value of the situation without relying on steadicams. Instead ‘Samurai Marathon’ shows the beauty of the Japanese landscape (…) Additionally, the score conducted by Philip Glass underlines the sense of urgency of these scenes, while also emphasizing the idea of a country at the brink of change.”

In the end, Samurai Marathon is an enjoyable period piece uniting various storylines into one tale about betrayal and loyalty. With a great cast and an eye for the wonderful landscape of Japan, this is a very interesting drama about a time of change in Japan, a much needed one on the one hand, but also aware of a certain loss on the other hand.


VCinema: “The pacing becomes steadier by the time the marathon is launched but the film still proceeds at a good pace and plot twists are frequent as are action and even comedic scenes as cheating and betrayals emerge. Neat editing cutting between different characters keeps everything coherent as the course of the marathon runs through fields and along mountain paths.

Everyone gets a go at a fight and there are many highlights, from combat on horseback to Nana Komatsu’s Princess Yuki proving to be a rose with many thorns as she scraps with men. Rurouni Kenshin lead actor Takeru Satoh gets a really well-shot duel rich with thrusts, blocks, slides, and stabs that will have audiences on the edges of their seats (…) All liberties taken with the story are in service of making the film a lot of fun as this is a definite crowd-pleaser.


ScreenDaily: Behind the camera talent is top tier. It’s a handsome picture (lensed by Takuro Ishizaka, who shot John Woo’s Manhunt) with lush, saturated greens and golds contrasting strikingly with the copiously spilled blood. The costumes are designed by Emi Wada, who won an Oscar for Kurosawa’s Ran. And the violent beauty of the visuals is complimented by a hauntingly lovely score by Philip Glass.


Cineuropa: The gorgeous cinematography by Director of photography Takuro Ishizaka (Manhunt, God of War) is a real feast for the eyes. The appealing shots of fields full of flowers and the woods create an unnerving symbiosis with the violent moments, enhanced by the beautiful scenery. The indoor scenes excel with the masterful use of lighting, especially in the nocturnal sequences where the warmth of the light creates an alluring, luminous atmosphere.


HeyUGuys: “When the swords are finally unsheathed, the action isn’t elaborately balletic or gratuitously grotesque, but strikes a perfect balance between being frenzied and easy to follow (…) Although far from sensational or instantly iconic, Samurai Marathon certainly has legs — and its basis in something approaching a true story (the ‘samurai marathon’ is run to this day, often in fancy dress) lends it extra novelty value.” 


OFFICIAL SITE

Rockin on Interview

Nana Komatsu and director Bernard Rose attended the US Premiere of Samurai Marathon at the New York Asian Film Festival on Friday, June 28. It was a memorable evening for the young actress as she received a Rising Asia Star Award. Rockin on has published a short but interesting report with highlights from the Q&A session as well as interviews. Original Post (Japanese) – Pics by Brent N.Clarke.


Selection of translated excerpts


“New York is such an amazing city with power and liveliness (…) here I felt like when I started acting, my heart was beating fast ” (Nana Komatsu, speech)


What was your favorite scene in Samurai Marathon?” ‘A scene I liked was when my father burned a picture at the beginning of the movie. Originally it was a scene with speech, but I thought of expressing emotion without words, I tried to suggest this to the director’ (Nana Komatsu, Q&A)

What’s the best thing to do so that Japanese actors appear in more American films?” ‘American films should right way appoint Nana a lot more. Then they should take Godzilla’. (Bernard Rose, Q&A)


“Princess Yuki Hime is sort of confined (…) but she is interested in the West and has a broad view of the world. She is a strong woman who wants to experience things without being bound by stereotypes (…) I thought it would be fine if I could impersonate such a woman so that everyone in the world could see and then have some cool after thought about her”. About the modernistic element in the movie and the empathy from the audience (Nana Komatsu, interview)

Are there any overlaps with yourself?” ‘Yuki Hime and I are similar as far as curiosity is concerned, I’m very curious and want to try anything (…) it’s all about challenge, dressing as a man, getting into a group of men, I think that makes her a rather active woman for that era…’ (Nana Komatsu, interview)

It’s a trite question but what about Scorsese and this time’s experience” ‘The way of shooting is completely different (…) Mr Scorsese isn’t the type of director who comes to the shooting scene, he comes when he needs it and will say ‘right, it’s good now, let’s have one more take’ and then you can have up to 30 takes and you don’t know which one will be used (…) Bernard Rose tends to favour live play (…) situations that seem chaotic serve as a strategy to give the cast a sense of unity’. (Nana Komatsu, interview)

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