by Chris MaGee
I am a huge fan of Toshiaki Toyoda. It's no secret. So, when I saw that the full trailer for Toyoda's upcoming film "The Blood of Rebirth" I had to watch it a half-dozen times just to soak it all in. Being based on a kabuki story about a masseur, Oguri Hangan (Tatsuya Nakamura), who is poisoned by an evil lord after freeing a captive princess (Mayuu Kusakari) and then returns from death (or near death) to face the evil lord once again, "The Blood of Rebirth" is definitely new creative territory for the 40-year-old filmmaker. Most of us fans are used to his gritty contemporary dramas like "Blue Spring", "9 Souls", and "The Hanging Garden", but a after a 2005 conviction of possessing "stimulants" which resulted in a three year suspended sentence which nearly ended his career "The Blood of Rebirth" doesn't just represent a shift into new creative territory, but a rebirth for Toyoda as well.
But what can we expect? Well, the easiest thing to do would be to check out the trailer over at Nippon Cinema, but my own quick impressions are that what we have here is what could be an interesting cocktail of Toyoda's old slow-motion, slow build filmmaking (and some familiar faces with Itsuji Itao, Mame Yamada, and Kiyohiko Shibukawa, a.k.a. Kee, on board) with what feels like a live-action take on Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke"... less the giant animals of course.
You can check out more about "The Blood of Rebirth" at its official site (Japanese-language only) before the reviews start pouring in from its debut at TokyoFilmeX in November.