The Samurai (2014) [Grimmfest 2014 Review]

Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,



Young Policeman Jakob (Michel Diercks) patrols the small village in which he lives. He is trying to track and capture the lone wolf that seems to be living in the woods around the village. After a mysterious package turns up, care of his address, he delivers it to the occupant, a stranger to the village who is a transvestite. This person is the Samurai (Pit Bukowski) and the package is his samurai sword. He challenges Jakob to chase him and stop him during his night of destruction around the village.

The Samurai is certainly the strangest film to have been shown at this year’s Grimmfest, but is no worse for it. In fact it makes it something quite unique and original. Coming from Germany, The Samurai has a potentially misleading title. Anyone coming in to the film expecting an Asian inflected kung fu and sword action film will be confused and sorely disappointed, though there is one stand out scene of sword violence that plays out upside down. What we get instead is an odd but original film with some real thought behind it. With some fantastical elements to the film, the whole thing plays out almost under a dreamlike blanket, its oddness making it feel so unreal, and that it might all be a strange creation of the main protagonist. Jakob is a young man stuck in a small, mostly isolated village. He seems to be the only cop in the village looking to do some real work. He is an outsider to the other young people of the village, most of them seem to make up the biker gang, never really fitting in with them, always looking in from the fringes. He is also stuck caring for his elderly Grandmother who he lives with at home. He is a lone wolf in the village and so feels an affiliation to the literal wolf living on the fringes of the village.

Der Samurai Still

The Samurai, all lean muscles and crazed eyes under a white dress and long blonde hair, is Jakob’s trapped psyche, true self and sense of action. He is the one who messes up the village and gets revenge on those who treat Jakob badly. He injects some action and some change in to the village; a literal manifestation of Jakobs anger, his revenge on those who treat him badly and his dislocation from this small and closed minded community. The film even lays in the idea that Jakob could be homosexual or bisexual, something that you get the feeling the village would never accept or understand, by building up an intense relationship between Jakob and the Samurai. It seems as if Jakob needs the Samurai despite the mess that he is creating before him. What unfolds during the film is a chase as Jakob, desperately tries to catch up with everything inside of him that is spilling out on to the streets over one night.

The film has quite a slow pace, leading you along slowly and really only opening up in flashes and starts. It occasionally has moments of unique vision in its imagery, always a pleasure to see, but you may sometimes find your interest waning as the film goes on. You should stick with it though, as this is an interesting film that deserves more attention than it will be able to garner.

The Samurai is a strange but original and interesting drama about the dislocation of being trapped in a close minded village, watching your life slowly pass you by.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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