Samurai Marathon (2019)

  • Year: 2019
  • Released: 12 May 2020
  • Country: Japan, United Kingdom
  • Adwords: 2 nominations
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Japanese
  • MPA Rating: TV-14
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, History
  • Runtime: 103 min
  • Writer: Akihiro Dobashi, Bernard Rose, Hiroshi Saitô
  • Director: Bernard Rose
  • Cast: Takeru Satoh, Nana Komatsu, Mirai Moriyama
  • Keywords: samurai, based on novel or book, marathon, jidaigeki, edo period, 19th century,
78% – Critics
70% – Audience

Samurai Marathon Storyline

The American imperialists are at the door and intruding on Japan. To assess and train his troops the lord of the land announces a marathon through the land crisscrossing shores, forests and the mountain. The shogunate in Edo was not approving and views word of the contest with contempt and suspicion. Spies and moles are dispatched. One mole realizes the misunderstanding and is determined to stop lives and alliances being lost. He runs.—aghaemi

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Samurai Marathon Movie Reviews

A return to samurai movies from the fifties and sixties

Partially based upon historical events, Bernard Rose’s Samurai Marathon portrays how a Japanese lord sends his men on an exhausting run to get them prepared for a potential attack by Western forces after centuries of isolation. The movie follows different characters involved in the marathon such as a boy attempting to honour his father, a conflicted spy whose loyalty gets tested and a rebellious princess longing for freedom. The main plot revolves around a misunderstanding as the military dictator misunderstands the marathon as a rebellion and sends his assassins to murder the feudal lord.

The movie convinces on quite a few levels. The settings are chosen with care and bring feudal Japan to life in an authentic way that will please historians despite a few minor inaccuracies. The different characters have depth and make the story diversified. The plot includes a few interesting twists and turns. The final thirty minutes are intense and feature some realistic fighting scenes. The vibrant score is epic and enhances the movie’s menacing atmosphere.

However, the film isn’t without its flaws. The introduction to the different characters and settings takes half an hour which makes for a somewhat plodding start. There are no noteworthy action scenes until the sixty-sixth minute. Those who are expecting a gripping sword fighting movie might be disappointed. This movie is a surprisingly slow paced drama with some action elements in the final third. Especially the ending should have been more intense as the film rather fades out than ends with a bang.

In the end, Samurai Marathon is recommended to those interested in Japanese culture, history and traditions. The diversified characters and dynamic story make for a convincing drama. The movie however also has its lengths and fails to leave a deeper impression. It certainly disappoints if you have been expecting an action film from the misleading trailers. The movie recalls samurai movies from the fifties and sixties by Kurosawa Akira, Misumi Kenji and Uchida Tomu.

Atypical Samurai movie

When the credits roll and the show is over, one feels like they have actually run through the beautiful landscapes of the Yamagata Prefecture, thanks to remarkable lights and a superb cinematography. With a balanced mix of humor, action and tragic moments, Bernard Rose has managed to release something personal, beyond the parody and tribute to the genre. The ensemble cast is superb, the young actors and the more experienced ones are all popular stars in Japan.

Good Enough

Samurai Marathon is apparently based on a true story, or, at least, on true events. That is why the movie was just a bit … I wouldn’t say boring but it lacked intensity. Usually, with samurai movies you expect action scenes that can take your breath away, wonderful speeches about greatness and deep emotions. Here, you get nice characters, but a flat story.

The action scenes were okay, but just a bit boring. The characters, moreover, were interesting, but they were too many to follow and that’s why the movie couldn’t handle them and they ended up falling through the cracks and disappearing.

The performances, as expected, were brilliant. The movie was packed with Japan’s big names (I mean Sato Takeru was one of the leads and that is enough reason to watch this one).

So, overall, six out of ten.