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Review: The Samurai (Der Samurai) – “Dark, subversive and sexy fairytale”


Annoyingly talented writer, director and editor Till Kleinert even more annoyingly made Der Samurai as his thesis film. I saw it at FrightFest last August and was keen to see it again to confirm whether I would still enjoy it as much when stripped off any festival fever. Annoyingly, yes, it is still really, really good.

Jakob (Michel Diercks) is young push-over cop in a small German village. A wolf has been prowling the deep, dark woods that surround his town, while a gang of moped riding yoofs threatens to cause it trouble from the inside.

Jakob receives a long, strange, sword-shaped package in the post addressed to a stranger. Being a good boy, he takes it to a small cabin in the woods to deliver it. There he meets a mysterious, lean and powerful warrior; a man with long, blonde hair, lipstick, a white dress, and now, a razor sharp katana.

After taking delivery of the blade, The Samurai (Pit Bukowski) threatens Jakob’s town with destruction and dares him to stop him. The pair set off into the woods and a thrilling game of cat and mouse ensues.

Tense, perfectly lit and framed throughout, and with some nervy jumps, this cross-dressing Terminator means business and when he reaches town all hell breaks loose. The inhabitants and their gardens are not safe from The Samurai’s wave of mutilation, and Jakob’s closeted sexuality is not safe either.

Quieter, tender scenes between the pair awaken feelings in Jakob that he struggles with, but as the night draws on he may not be able to keep them, or the object of his affection’s rage, in check. Touching moments between Jakob and The Samurai come between feral, inventive and wonderfully choreographed sword swinging frenzies that evoke memories of Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In.

Kleinert’s dark, subversive and sexy fairytale is a singular vision that may not be your usual cup of tea, but you should certainly give it an exploratory sip. Immaculate and not quite like anything else, it’s ending may be a little overly obfuscated, and one shot in particular may prove divisive, but this is a passionate passion project loaded with equal amounts of subtext and stylish and unforgettable imagery.



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