On a planet where humans scavenge across a post-apocalyptic barren wasteland and where other races are at war with each other, Hirokin, a reluctant warrior who is trying to forget his mercenary past, gets caught up in a chain of events, which will forever affect the world and himself.
Hirokin, played by Wes Bentley, has chosen a peaceful path with his wife and kid and, although they live a nomadic existence, they are managing to survive. Step forward rent a bad guy Julian Sands, here playing Viceroy Griffin, the leader of some sort of new order that seems to be a cross between ancient Rome, with gladiatorial combat games and slavery and the Republic out of Star Wars, complete with Darth Vader wannabe, Kove, who is the Viceroy’s main henchman. According to the credits, as with Mr Vader, two actors also play Kove – one for the body and another for the voice!
And the Star Wars references don’t end there: in the corner for good we have a group led by the Jedi Master-like Moss, played rather peculiarly by Macfadyen, who talks like Confucius and knows the way of the force – or at least some cool martial arts with lots of cod philosophy thrown in for good measure.
Anyway nasty Griffin captures Hirokin and his family and forces Wes to fight in a gladiatorial type tournament to save his wife – he does pretty well, but the thoroughly unpleasant Kove strangles him and poor Hirokin ends up in a dead body pit because they think he’s dead. However, he’s rescued by one of Moss’s minions who has seen great potential in him and Hirokin is given directions to Moss’s not so secret hideaway in the desert (well they will keep on having noisy parties!).
To cut a long story short (I wish you would Justin I hear you say!) he’s healed by Moss’s daughter, who falls in love with him, and is trained by main man Moss himself in the ways of the Samurai and then returns to the badlands to wreck revenge for his wife and kid – only they’re not dead, as Julian Sand’s wants to impregnate Hirokin’s good lady as he’s desperate for a kid – basically he just wants to be loved!
Ok, so what are the good points? Well, Hirokin is well shot (it was shot on a Red apparently); makes good use of some impressive desert locations (plus a few quarries no doubt!); the acting just about stands up, although there’s a lot of dodgy ‘dire –logue’; Hirokin makes use of a cool sword, which can be attached to a bungee style rope and is used to lance people with; there’s a few half decent action scenes, although not enough and a couple are a bit silly; there’s a decent music score, the villains are pretty cool with some evil looking helmets and the ending has a couple of surprises.
On the negative side some of the sound design is awful and certain characters are quite difficult to hear at times; the plot is a little hackneyed and lacks originality (although that wouldn’t have been a problem if it had been better explained); there’s a pretty unfunny comedy duo who get way too much time allotted to them, and the pacing is a bit erratic, which means you do end up looking at your watch a few too many times. Oh, and if Julian Sands’ acting gets any more hammy he’ll need to change his name by deed-poll to Julian ‘porcine’ Sands!
Looking at the credits I noticed it’s got eight executive producers, which made me wonder if this is another case of ‘too many cooks…’ as I felt that the film was trying to be too many things and therefore missed its chance to just be good at one thing rather than average at a few!
Overall Hirokin isn’t bad entertainment, it’s just not particularly good either. If you enjoy a bit of sci-fi mixed in with your martial arts you could go a lot worse than this, but I suggest you rent rather than buy.
Hirokin – The last Samurai has recently been released on DVD and Bluray and is being distributed by Signature Entertainment. There were no extras on the review disc.
Review by Justin Richards