Sunday, July 12, 2009

Warring Clans, Flashing Blades - A Samurai Film Companion (Patrick Galloway, 2009)

Hideo Gosha's Goyokin (1969), reviewed in Warring Clans, Flashing Blades.

Patrick Galloway dives right back into the samurai film pool, following up on his 2005 Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves - The Samurai Film Handbook with Warring Clans, Flashing Blades - A Samurai Film Companion and this time he's going a bit deeper into the more unknown films, unknown to casual fans like myself, at least.

This time the writer provides a bit more cultural context and explanations to the different ceremonies, the warrior code and other cultural proceedings that occur in samurai films. He also takes a slightly more analytical route, which is very much welcome, but just like in Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves, the writing suffers from becoming too casual, the reviews mostly consisting of a (detailed) synopsis and pointing out of "whoa!" moments. At the same time as it is pointed out that samurai films aren't that easy to get into and takes some work to really understand, the writing at times feels like it's aimed at 14-year-olds just looking for the next cool flick.

Don't get me wrong, I still really like the book. The style keeps it from becoming too dry and makes it a quick and fairly entertaining read, and while deeper analysis would have been appreciated, for the number of films on review here, it would take a lot more than 200 pages. And no matter what I think of the writing, there is no denying of all the research and enthusiasm that has gone into the book and that is its strongest point as the love for these films comes through. For as a guide to, and an inspiration for looking up all these films, Warring Clans... fills its purpose more than well, and what could be a better function for a book like this?