By Rosamond Tsao . July 26, 2006 . 11:25am
Urban Vision Entertainment and AsiaVision premiered their latest title "Azumi" at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre last night. Although the showing was subtitled, the English dubbed version will be made avaliable this week. Since the manga’s debut in 1994, Yu Koyama’s story about the ultimate assassin, Azumi, has sold over eight million copies.
Many screenwriters were unable to capture the story’s tone and were almost forced to give up until producer Mataichiro Yamamoto finally found a director capable of filming a story in such a large scale. Yamamoto-san explained at the premiere that he was impressed with the fast action depiction of violence after viewing the film "Versus" at the 2001 Yubari Film Festival. Yamamoto-san’s collaboration with director Ryuhei Kitamura made it possible to create a unique 19th century war-torn Japanese world that also keeps the original spirit of the "Azumi" story.
"Honestly, ‘Azumi’ is a film with nothing but highlight scenes. It’s a series of various action scenes from the start to the end," said Kitamua-san. Given the story’s crucial theme of a heroine deciding to kill her friends and enemies without knowing if they are good or evil, Kitamura paid serious attention to the pain in living this kind of life. Thus, the climatic scene involves Azumi’s killing spree against the jaw-dropping number of 200 enemies. "I thought, ‘Ten or Twenty is not enough. That’s weak…but the basis of this film is entertainment. What matters the most is how Azumi slashes her enemies. That’s it."
Actress Aya Ueto embodies the Azumi role. Kitamura didn’t choose her to play the role because of her fame and popularity, but rather the fact that she possessed a quality that makes the audience fall in love with her at the same time be able to keep up with the physically tough requirements. Additionally, the supporting cast were brilliant, each displaying a rich character that accentuate Azumi’s beauty and strength. Even though the movie took nearly two years to make, the wait was worthwhile.