Uzumasa (Kyoto) is considered the Hollywood of Japan. It has produced many jidaigeki films (period dramas with sword fighting) that are loved by many Japanese, and are highly praised all over the world. These films wouldn't be what they were if it weren' t for the 'kirareyaku' (actors whose main job is to be killed by the lead star). Men who are killed, without ever being lit by the limelight...This story is about those men, the unsung heroes of classic jidaigeki films. They loved and respected the art, even when the production of classic jidaigeki films began to dwindle. Using Charlie Chaplin's film 'Limelight' as an underlying theme, the admirable story of these men dealing with a new generation and fading craftsmanship is told with melancholy and soul.
Beautiful and exciting
- Uzumasa Limelight review by Alphaville
A film about the end of the golden age of samurai films gets the golden treatment from director Ken Ochiai. The wonderfully expressive Seizo Fukumoto plays an ageing sword-fighting stuntman who strikes up a friendship with an aspiring samurai actress. In real life Fukumoto is indeed a famous samurai extra – ‘the man who lives for the art of dying’. He has been killed on screen literally tens of thousands of times, with his signature death inspired by the way Chaplin executed his pratfalls.
This is an elegiac film about a lost way of life and is full of poignant moments. There’s lots of choreographed sword-fighting on film sets to enjoy, with some scenes even recalling Truffaut’s paean to filmmaking ‘Day for Night’, but it’s the human drama that draws you in. The climactic fight scenes even pull off the remarkable trick of being both exciting and moving at the same time. This is a beautiful film that grows on you with every frame.