Maintaining Your Ground, When The West Was Young: Heritage of The Desert

The Western art films depict the taming of nature during the Old American West. Set during the 19th century the Western genre deals with the settlement days where code of honor is emphasized in the film. The plot invokes the era’s “frontier justice” where citizens who’ve been wronged by outlaws enact retribution through showdowns where firearms are used. Nature is raw in the frontier where settlers are close to the mountains and sand dunes.

The are several subcategories for Westerns which include: Union Pacific story where modern technology of the era begins to flourish, Ranch story where the ranch owners face peril due to their property being coveted by rustlers or large landowners, Empire story where one builds an empire from the ground up whether a ranch or oil, Revenge story where the perpetrator is pursued and brought to justice by the wronged, Cavalry and Indian story involves colonization of the land for new settlers, Outlaw story involves outlaws, and Marshal story which focus on the lawman.

Henry Hathaway directed The Thundering Herd (1933), The Shepherd of the Hills (1941), To the Last Man (1933), Sundown (1941), Prince Valiant (1954), True Grit (1969), and many other films. When The West Was Young: Heritage of The Desert (1932) conveys the significance of standing one’s ground in the face of adversity. There’s a portrayal of the harsh environment of the 1890’s in the West through elements of nature and outlaws. The film is based on Zane Grey’s novel Heritage of the Desert which had another early film adaptation.

There are many instances in which the characters exhibited courage in difficult moments such as Adam Naab sticking to the land that his kin founded as Judson Holderness attempts to take it. Jack Hare shows gumption before the Naab family when he owns up to the newfound love that Judy expressed to him. Judy following her heart doesn’t conform to expectations of tradition and breaks off the wedding as she doesn’t love Snap.

The film begins with a dedication to the earlier settlers who helped build the foundation for the land. Set during 1890 word spreads of a “gangster element” in the region.

In the desert Judson Holderness (David Landau) talks with Lefty (Guinn Williams) about how he has brought out all the land in the region but Adam Naab’s. Lefty mentions that Naab won’t sway which leads Holder to concoct a plan. Adam Naab (J. Farrell MacDonald) is overseeing his workers while Windy (Vincent Bernett) adjusts the dress for Judy (Sally Blane) while they talk.

Judson makes his way to the Naab’s ranch to make him an offer but he declines. Adam shows him the graves of his fellow settlers who he traveled and worked with to cultivate the land on which they stand. Judson leaves with no intention of abandoning his aim of obtaining the land through whatever means.

At Judson’s The White Sage Salon, he offers Snap Naab (Gordon Westcott) credits to continue another round on a game of chance in exchange for his service. Jack Hare (Randolph Scott) a land appraiser enters the establishment asking for directions to Naab’s ranch. He’s directed to Judson who offers him housing for the night as a snare to lead him to his end. Lefty is ordered to shoot Hare’s horse as he traverses the desert in the blazing sun. Nearby the betrothed Judy and Snap stumble upon Jack who’s dehydrated from roaming the scorching land.

Being nursed back to form Jack reveals that he’s the land appraiser and that he was looking for Adam Naab, but was set up by Holderness . Judy is quite taken with Jack and both build rapport with one another to Snap’s dismay. The Naab clan are camping out and tuning to music of the young West as they stand their ground against Judson.

The following day Naab sends Jack to Judy’s territory after reviewing the paperwork for the land appraisal. Jack crosses over to Judy’s and both spend the day together while Snap sets off frustrated because Judy is with Jack who he sees as an obstacle for Judy’s hand. Jack goes out briefly, upon returning he finds Judy in danger and rescues her from a bear that was attacking the cattle on the mountain trail. Afterwards, Snap takes Judy back with him after finding her with Jack.

The wedding is pushed ahead and Jack is crestfallen as he felt something for Judy. Adam sends Jack as lookout for Judson’s men and Judy watches disheartened as Jack rides away on his horse. She decides to go out to find Jack to profess her feelings for him and both meet each other with jubilance. Jack heads to Naab’s to sort things out, there he encounters the rowdy Snap who knocks him as he tried to explain the development with Judy.

As Judy makes her way back she finds Judson in her home and she tries to escape. Snap arrives telling Judson that he isn’t taking orders from him before getting shot. The fate of Snap reaches Adam on his doorstep as a message is delivered on the back of his son’s suit. Both Adam and Jack head to the Salon to confront Judson and rescue Judy.

While holding Judy against her will Judson reveals that he intends to marry her in order to acquire her land under his name. Jack gets to Judy first while aided by Windy, however, there’s a standoff with Windy sustaining a gunshot wound. With the arrival of Adam, Holderness is confronted by the father of the man who’s death he’s responsible for, resulting in Judson and his men being dispatched in the night. At daybreak Jack and Judy ride their horse toward the horizon with Adam following behind looking toward their future.

Heritage_of_the_Desert
Henry Hathaway’s Heritage of The Desert (1932)

The ranch story reiterates the importance of legacy and independence through the actions of the characters. In a discussion with Judson Lefty said, “That Naab isn’t going to hightail it like the rest of the settlers did, he’s a fighter,” it shows the emphasis of maintaining ground in turbulent times.

 

Immediately audience will be immersed into the early West where nature and outlaws run wild. In this 60 minute black and white film viewers will be taken to the frontier days where technology isn’t evolved to what is known today. Adam Naab’s clan camp out under the stars in the night, and during the day these settlers herd their cattle. Naab fights to protect what his fellow men died to build in the early days. The importance of family and camaraderie is a reoccurring theme which is akin to Lassie in The Painted Hills (1951). Audience are treated to a final confrontation in Judson’s Saloon where “frontier justice” is dished for the death of Adam’s son, and the kidnapped Judy is rescued.

Advertisements

Passing of the Baton: Born of Hope

Fantasy film genre deal with the supernatural forces and involves good confronting evil. Often knights are in the story, mythical being such elves, fairies, orges, trolls,  as well as an evil wizard that the hero or heroes are called into action to defeat. There is a rite of passage involved within the plot where the protagonist trains to discover his or her power.

Having worked on Into the Darkness and The Horsemen (2005) Kate Madison directed Born of Hope (2009) which was inspired by Lord of the Rings and acts a fan based prequel.

The film conveys the significance of hope and optimism during turbulent times. When Arathorn has a nightmare and feels uncertain of the future Gilraen said, “fear not tomorrow for it is not ours to know or to command,” which shows that the future is not set in stone one has to work to build their future. The film portrays a village continuing life in the face a adversity and not giving in to the fear of terror that the Orcs embody.

A village is ravaged in the middle of the night by orge-like warriors, known as Orcs. Time has passed a man along with his wife and daughter are traveling in the woods pulling a cart which holds their son ready for burial. As the family make their way, they are ambushed by Orcs and they fight them. The Orcs are warded off thanks to Arathorn (Christopher Dane) and his fellow knights. He escorts the family to his homeland and while Gilraen (Beth Aynsely), the daughter has fallen smitten with the knight who saved her family.

The family meets Lord Arador (Iain Marshall), Arathorn’s father who welcomes them to his land and arranges a burial for their son. The kingdom is tranquil, however, word that the enemy grows restless reaches the king, and Arathorn is tasked to venture the Orcs’ territory to gather information. Gilraen is out in the field and encounters Arathorn to which both parties express their fancy for one another.

Arathorn travels through the region as the seasons change and he sneaks into a cave where a couple of Orcs brings rings that they’ve taken from their victims. He hears of their plan to find and eliminate the bloodline that poses a threat them, and learns that they’re not working alone. Upon his return to the village he warns the lord that the Orcs are looking for him. Arathorn would betroth Gilraen after gaining approval from her parents, leaving Arathorn’s close friend Elgarain (Kate Madison) crestfallen as she had unprofessed feelings.

At dark Arathorn awakens troubled by a dream of a battle where his father had meet his end, however, Gilraen comforts him and tells him to keep hope as they’re expecting child. Time has passed and Arathorn has succeded Lord Arador after his passing, the children are growing and the village is festive, yet an immenient threat is looming. Allies from a distant region come to warn Arathorn that the Orcs are heading to the village and is forced into an ultimateum to set out for battle.

Elgarain decides to set out on her own to gather information on the enemy as her heart is jilted by Arathorn but Arathorn rushes to stop her. He tries to protest but is called by his men back to the village and gives a farewell to his sister-like figure. Dirharborn (Danny George) who had known Elgarain for a long time follows shortly and professes his feelings as he wants to be at her side, however, the Orcs emerge in the woods poised for attack. Dirharborn tells Elgarain to go ahead to warn the village and she reluctantly complies as he holds off the attack. She rushes to the village shouting of the enemies’ presence and a battle ensues.

Born of Hope
Kate Madison’s Born of Hope (2009)

 

The enemies taunt the villagers as they toss the slain Dirharborn’s head and the battle gets heated as blades clash. The enemy attacks the townspeople and seek to end the lives of Arathorn and his son Aragorn (Luke Johnston). Elgarain protects Gilraen at the cost of her life which incensed Arathorn whom declares to slay the fleeing Orcs. After a fierce battle in the woods Arathorn returns mortality wounded to Gilraen his “joy” and Aragorn his “hope” before passing on. The villagers disperse into seperate small communities and Gilraen along with Aragorn head to an allies territory for safeguard. Held by his mother Aragorn will be raised in place of his father to defeat the Orcs and bring peace to the land as he is Arathorn’s surviving hope.

For an hour and 11 minutes audiences will be treated to action, a story of love, and a message of hope. The film makes great use of lighting to convey intensity during the sword battles against the Orcs. The use of language at certain scenes gives an authenticity of the medieval time period. As the nature of battles of this era was brutal there are some moments that may be gory for the faint of heart. The theme of good prevailing over evil is in the hope of a child is comparable to Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). The film ends in a hopeful note as the future of the land is in the hands of the next generation.

A Legendary Heart: Legend of Sudsakorn

The Fantasy film genre deals with supernatural elements and is divided into two subgenres, the first being High Fantasy which takes place in an alternate world setting rather than using the real world. The protagonist starts off as a child who comes of age though his or her journey discovering or training to develop their skills, and the theme of Good vs. Evil is present. The second subgenre is Sword and Sorcery which emphasizes sword battles, involves romance, and the supernatural.

Krisorn Buramasing has directed One Take Only (2001), The Sin (2004), Siyama, (2008), and Love In The Rain (2013).

The film Legend of Sudsakorn (2006) depicts journey of a boy in search of his father. The young protagonist Sudsakorn is adventurous at heart and often set out on his own worrying his mermaid mother. On his quest to find his father Sudsakorn is exposed to evil in the form of spirits, vile creatures that try to take his life, and bad people who harm others and resort to deceit. The journey is of self-discovery while retaining the virtues of a child.

The film begins with sailors traversing the sea during a stormy night. The narrator gives the details of Sudsakorn’s origins, the encounter between a sailor and a mermaid. The following day King Usaren’s men brings a group men of as prisoners to be executed before him. At sea a boy is swimming in the ocean with a mermaid. Elsewhere a group of men enter a cave to ask for help from a long bearded old man with a hyena laugh.

The mermaid (Pemanee Sungkorn) asks for a the elder hermit (Suchao Pongwilai) to give Sudsakorn discipline as he’s mischievous and runs off on his own. The boy (Charlie Trairat) goes to a deserted island where he encounters a dragon-horse which gallops away on the fluid ocean surface. King Usaren (Phanudet Watanasuchart) takes prince Apaimanee (Surachai Sangarkart) prisoner and holds him for ransom upon learning his identity.

After returning from the ocean taming the dragon-horse, at the beach Sudsakorn tells the hermit and his mother of his exploits. The hermit tells the boy that he must go find his father but Sudsakorn shows reluctance and implores the master that he doesn’t want to leave. The master tells him that he must venture and Sudsakorn begins his journey to the East on the dragon-horse after his mother gave him her hairpin. The prince’s brother, Srisuwan (Woravit Kaewphet) discusses a plan for his rescue with his confidant.

Legend of Sudsakorn
Legend of Sudsakorn (2006) Poster

 

Entering Pakka City at sundown Sudsakorn is invited to stay for the night by the villagers. He enters the village when the gate closes and its revealed that the people are ghosts. They swarm to envelope Sudsakorn who fights back with his staff along with his dragon-horse. Outnumbered the boy continues to ward off the spirits when a light appears that overtakes the spirits. Saved by his master, Sudsakorn hears words of encouragement before the Old hermit vanishes into the fading light.

A group of men enter Devil Island in the dark of night when they’re attacked by humanoid butterfly like creatures. Sudsakorn enters Pamon Island where he encounters the eccentric long bearded old man Fakir self-described wizard who swindles him through promise of teaching protective spells. Sudsakorn is pushed down the cliff in a cave by Fakir who makes off with his staff and dragon-horse.

Fakir goes to Karawek City where he’s invited into the palace as King Suriyothai believes he’s the prophesied hero from the West that will save the kingdom. The dragon-horse escapes from Fakir and goes back for Sudsakorn on Pamon Island. The boy sneaks into the kingdom and retrieves his staff from Fakir with help from the young prince (Anyarit Pitakkul) and princess (Natathida Damrongwisetphanit).

The king’s men set sail with Sudsakorn heading to Devil Island, however, the young royal siblings stowed away in the ship. The siblings explained that they want to explore and experience adventure. As they sail the giant butterflies attack the ship and take the princess to their nest. Sudsakorn follows them with his trusted dragon-horse to rescue the princess from being devoured and fights off the creatures. He returns the young heiress with her brother on the boat and bids farewell before heading off.

Sudsakorn rushes to the battlefield where King Usaren’s forces are clashing against Srisuwan’s Calvary in order to rescue Prince Apaimanee. Sudsakorn overwhelms Usaren’s men and Srisuwan takes control in the bout against Usaren. Poised to finish off Usaren, Srisuwan spares the enemy’s life as Apaimanee implores him to do so mentioning that the king saved his life. As the battle ends Apaimanee thanks Sudsakorn and asks for his name when the boy presents him his mother’s hairpin. Upon seeing the hairpin the prince realizes the young boy is his son, both embrace expressing the joy of their reunion.

Compassion is emphasized in the film as Sudsakorn spares Fakir’s life when the king sentenced his punishment. Sudsakorn said, “forgiveness is a virtue,” which conveys an innocence that many adults don’t retain upon reaching maturity. Mercy is extended to King Usaren by Apaimanee whom he held prisoner.

The world that Legend of Sudsakorn is set in is comparable to the likeness of The Scorpion King (2002) through the combat system and the supernatural. There are tropes from mythology in the film that convey superhuman feats such as the final battle where one of Srisuwan’s men fires a thousand arrows in one stroke. For 1 hour and 55 minutes this subtitled Thai fantasy film will leave audience awestruck and in suspense as the hero encounters mythical entities.

Seeing through Deception, Go-Get – ‘Em, Haines

The Closed mystery film genre focus on solving a crime through detective work and does not reveal the identity of the individual who committed the act. Audience have to pay attention to the plot to see clues of the criminal mind, however, they can be mislead through red herrings such as characters who have motives to commit a crime but didn’t. Murder is a often seen in the plot of the genre and its up to the protagonist to string together the leads to discover the perpetrator.

Sam Newfield has directed Undercover Men (1934), Bulldog Courage (1935), The Fighting Deputy (1937), The Fighting Renegade (1939), Tiger Fangs (1943), Wolf Dog (1958), Flaming Frontier (1958), and other films.

In the film Go-Get – ‘Em, Haines (1936) the pursuit of the truth and justice is conveyed through Steve Haines as he works to prove the innocence of a man wrongfully accused of a crime. The story shows that no matter what no one can escape from justice after committing a wrong and expect to have a end with peace of mind.

In the office of The Editor Walter Bernard (Ernest Hilliard), Steve Haines (Bill Boyd) is assigned to get a quote from John Grahams in regards to the defunct electric company. Steve reluctantly goes to Graham as he has football tickets. He rushes to Grahams’ residence by taxi when John Graham (Lee Shumway) leaves and Steve follows him to a cruise ship that’s set for sail.

Onboard he runs into Gloria Palmer (Eleanor Hunt) a former lover of Grahams and also Tony Palmer, an acquaintance of Steve. On the deck he shares a brief exchange with Jane Kent (Sheila Terry) who initially snubs him as she doesn’t know him. Steve after failing to find a room in the sailing ship helps a klutzy passenger up who invites him to stay at his cabin and he accepts.

Meanwhile, John Grahams is in his cabin counting money when The Steward (Louis Natheaux) enters the room with a drink. Angered that the steward entered while he was handling the money in his suitcase he splashes the drink at the steward demanding that the drink wasn’t the one he ordered. Peering outside from a the cabin window Tony spots the money that John has with him.

Steve encounters Henry Kent (Clarence Geldert) his favorite actor and greets him and then makes his way to Jane who’s waiting for her father, Henry to which surprises Steve. Steve suggests that the cruise should have a play and gets everyone on it the act, in hopes to get Grahams out in the open.

During the prep for the play one of the actors indicates that he’s unable to perform and Grahams is asked to participate to which he hesitantly complies. Before the play begins the lights are cut and a gun prop is switched with a real one. When Henry enters his scene, he fires the gun at Grahams who collapses and the audience and actors believe its part of the act. Gloria discovers blood on Grahams and the play is stopped as Captain Ward (Lloyd Ingraham) wants to start an investigation. Henry is considered a main suspect as he fired the gun and was one of the people Grahams cheated money from.

Go-Get-Em-Haines
Go-Get – ‘Em Haines (1936) Cover

After interviewing several persons of interest Steve believes that Tony is the one responsible for Grahams’ death, However, after encountering a steward who came out of Grahams’ cabin, Steve gives chase. As the pursuit ensues the steward tries to evade Steve who manages to tear a piece of the uniform and takes it to be identified.

Eventually, Steve assembles the Captain and the suspects in a room and tells them that he has a witness who’s recovering under a doctor and can identify the killer. Steve steps out to gauge the reactions of the group then confronts the Captain in his quarters who confesses to switching the guns as he was scammed by Grahams. Shortly after solving the mystery Steve writes to Walter to tell him about the cruise and his plans to marry Jane as she sits with him as he writes the letter.

As a reporter Steve Haines is accustomed to conducting investigative work through research and interviews. Steve Haines follows the Sherlock Holmes archetype in detective work and use of deductions. The sense of humor of Haines makes his character three dimensional as he teases his acquaintance and his editor in the film. For 56 minutes this black and white film will provide plenty of red herrings that will keep the audience guessing until the end of the film.

Awakening the Assassin of Justice, Azumi

In Japan the jidaigeki genre is period dramas which is seen in film, television, and theatrics. Drawing from Japanese history the jidaigeki usually takes place in the Edo period between 1603 to 1868. Common characters of the genre consists of warriors whether ninja or samurai, farmers, craftsman, merchants, and government officials. The story follows the exploits of the characters who are often portrayed as nomadic, moving from place to place. Chambara is sword fights in the movies, a subgenera of jidaigeki.

Having directed Azumi (2003) Ryûhei Kitamura has also worked on Exit (1995), Heat After Dark (1996), Versus (2000), Alive (2002), Sky High (2003), Baton (2009), and other films.

An adaptation of a manga comic the film Azumi portrays the brutality of war on the people. The civilians who’ve been displaced by the fights that seeped beyond the boundaries of the battlefield. The destruction of homes and children being orphaned at a young age is shown through the war. Civilians and soldiers alike are seen as expendable by those in charge who abuse their power and seek conflict. The story follows Gessai, a master swordsman and veteran of a past war who trains students since childhood to takedown the war mongers in order to bring peace to the land.

Crows fly in the sky, a little girl is sitting looking over a lifeless woman. A man with a straw hat consoles the girl and heads out, a boy extends his hand reaching out to the girl. Along with three other kids and the man, the girl leaves and looks back at the woman one last time. In a forest, leaves fly in the wind and the girl now grown into a woman clashes blades with swordsman. The young warriors in training run out of the forest, Nagara (Yuma Ishigak) the clumsy of the bunch falls into the water and is teased by his sibling disciples. The sibling return to their home as Master Gessai (Yoshio Harada) cooks fish and they discuss how Nachi (Shun Oguri) and Azumi (Aya Ueto) are the top sword masters of their peers.

After their meal the students sleep while their master reflects in the past war he fought. He remembers being around his fallen comrades, looking over his fallen son as he conversed with Priest Tenkai. Tenkai tells Gessai to train assassins to eliminate warlords who want to start conflict, and Gessai vows to fulfill the objective. Having taken in ten students since childhood Gessai order the young swordsmen to pair up with the one they like the most and slay each other. The friends turn their blades to their partners reluctantly, Nachi and Azumi face off and Azumi remorsefully slays her friend. Behind their master the remaining five students stand over the grave of their siblings as they watch their home ablaze and they walk off.

The five with their sensei enter a village that gets pillaged by bandits and they’re instructed not to get involved. Azumi watches as a woman gets dragged away from her daughter and is rattled. A ninja named Nagato delivers a letter from Priest Tenkai with instructions and the group heads to their target the warlord, Nagamasa Asano. Azumi finds the warlord fishing by a lake with his underlings and her group close in to get their target.

After their first mission the group head straight to their next target Kiyomasa. Kiyomasa (Naoto Takenaka) talks about the news of the fallen lord with Kanbei (Kazuki Kitamura), his right hand and devises a plan. Gessai’s group finds Kiyomasa’s forces in the forest but they get his double and their comrade Amagi is struck by a flying pin in his forearm in the battle. Elsewhere, the messenger Saru (Minoru Matsumoto) brings a letter to a triad of brothers to assasinate Gessai’s group. The young swordsmen enter a village where they watch a trope performance by a traveling group in the street and Hyuga (Kenji Kohashi) is in smitten with Yae (Aya Okamoto) of the trope.

Kanbei and Saru discuss the brothers’ aptitude in their mercenary skills. The following morning Azumi, along with Hyuga and Nagara head out to see Yae’s trope while Gessai and Ukiha stay while Amagi is fatigued and doesn’t get up from bed. However, the trope has left and Nagato comes to Gessai to inform him that Kiyomasa is still alive.

Meanwhile, Yae’s trope is attacked by the Nisai brothers as they’re mistaken for Gessai’s group. Azumi and company come to Yae’s aid, however, she’s the sole survivor of the attack. Azumi returns with Yae to find Gessai and Ukiha (Hiroki Narimiya) poised to leave for their mission after failed attempts to quell the poisoned Amagi. She’s reprimanded for bringing Yae and is ordered to leave for the mission but she’s reluctant about leaving Amagi behind. After a heated argument Gessai and Ukiha leave while Amagi implores Azumi and Hyuga to go ahead with a remorseful Nagara following shortly and ends his already fleeting life to get her moving.

The two make a grave for Amagi and pay their respects along with Yae then get ready to part. Walking in a rice field, Yae converses with Hyuga and invites him and Azumi to stay with her in her hometown in Tangou. Suddenly, they’re approached by a man in a regal white kimono holding a rose, the sadist Bijomaru Mogami (Joe Odagiri) accompanied by Saru, does battle with Hyuga. Hyuga falls at the hands of Bijomaru who sets his eyes on Yae, but Saru prevents him from attacking and leaves. Afterward, Azumi finds Yae and both put Hyuga to rest and questions about her purpose is raised.

Nagato does some reconnaissance on Kiyomasa and brings information to Gessai but not without being mortally wounded. Meanwhile, Yae is bonding with Azumi and gives her a pink kimono and grooms her to which Azumi is in awe upon seeing herself donned in a women’s wardrobe. Yae tells Azumi that she doesn’t want to see another person die, insisting that she does not fight.

Gessai, Ukiha, and Nagara enter the enemy territory in the shadow of night. Lighting roars as Gessai reaches Kiyomasa, where he clashes with Kanbei however, he falls. Ukiha fights the bandits outside when Bijomaru appears, amused by the warrior’s predicament. Baited by the imprisonment of his master, Ukiha rushes to him against Gessai’s wishes and is slain before Bijomaru who tosses a rose before the defeated Ukiha.

Azumi (2003)
Poster for Azumi film (2003)

In the middle of night, Azumi and Yao are accosted in their sleep by bandits which triggers Azumi’s inner warrior and she takes up the blade, slaying the outlaws. Azumi tells Yae that she doesn’t have a choice but to fight and the following morning she parts with Yae who gives her a black cape before heading to the enemy stronghold.

As Bijomaru’s forces ready Gessai’s execution an explosion shakes their base and as the smoke clears a black caped Azumi emerges. She takes on the bandits with an on looking Bijomaru who’s unable to contain his excitement at Azumi’s prowess with the sword. Slaughtering his allies Bijomaru reaches Azumi for a final showdown. After defeating Bijomaru, Azumi tearfully mourns for her master in the rain who tells her there are no more missions for her to take.

At sea on a sunny day Kanbei talks with his lord when suddenly Azumi leaps from the air and does a drop down slash, slaying Kiyomasa and she vanishes quickly as she came. Back on the fallen bandit’s village, Nagara emerges from the rubble when Azumi reappears and talks about their next target. Nagara tells Azumi that they’re the last two and they may not survive. Azumi assures Nagara that they will survive and flaps her cape as she turns to lead the way.

A reoccurring theme in the film is life and survival as seen through Azumi. Azumi was orphaned as a little girl and trained in the way of the sword. When Yae insists that she forgoes the art as she’s a woman, Azumi has a brief experience with her feminine identity as she’s dressed like a lady. However, when she’s forced to defend herself against bandits, her need to take up the sword to survive is reaffirmed. After defeating Bijomaru she is reunited with her dying master who says to her, “From now on live as you wish, survive and keep on living,” which shows the significance of free will and survival. Ultimately, Azumi chooses to continue the way of the sword of her own accord.

The film makes great use of imagery as seen through the introduction with crows flying in the sky which foreshadows the death of a young Azumi’s mother and established the tone for the film. The climatic battle between a black caped Azumi against a regal white Bijomaru shows the clash between opposing forces.

The film is comparable to that of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) which later saw a 2004 anime adaptation titled: Samurai 7 based on the master who gathers skill swordsman to fight bandits and a corrupt system. Audience watching Azumi, for 142 minutes will be treated to intense sword fights and grow attached to the protagonists who live precarious lives as they fight bandits and corrupt shogun.

The Play of Life, Love: Ishkq in Paris

The Bollywood film structure is influenced by the ancient Indian epics that make use of the story within a story device. The art of dance, music and mime in the film is inspired from the ancient Sanskrit drama. There are choreographed dancing in the films which has some Western influence. Prem Raj has directed the romance film Main Aurr Mrs Khanna (2009).

Prem Raj’s film Ishkq in Paris (2013) conveys the beautiful aspect of love as well as the difficulties that it can entail. Marie mentions that “to stay in love is difficult,” which is conveyed through Ishkq and Aakash’s relationship as it is long distance as well as their different lifestyles.

A French Actress named Marie Elise (Isabelle Adjani) begins the dialogue about a love story she’s working on titled Autumn in Paris. The story begins with the carefree photographer Ishqu (Preity Zinta)  and the business agent Aakash (Rhenan Malliek) who are on board a train heading to Paris. Aakash is seated when he makes a remark about the French style of female wardrobe as he spots the passenger putting away her baggage and she responds to a surprised Aakash. Ishqu and Aakash start up a chat throughout the train ride and discuss their trip to Rome.

Upon arrival to Paris, Aakash suggest they go to the clubs together as it is difficult to enter without a companion. Ishqu makes it clear that she has a “no love, no commitment, equals no heartbreak” policy then sets a time for the meeting with Aakash at the Eiffel Tower and acts as his guide to Paris as it is her home. Ishqu and Aakash talk about themselves and Ishqu’s short-lived relationship with a waiter and she’s teased about it.

She runs off in the tower and Aakash follows close when Ishqu bumps into a salesman who sells his products from his jacket. He offers a love dice for sale to Ishqu’s dismay but quickly passes it off as a “fun dice” and manages to sell it. Ishqu and Aakash roll the dice and it says party, then they head to the club. The duo danced in the club throughout the night enjoying themselves in the flashy lights.

Afterward they talk more and give another roll of the dice which lands on dinner. They eat at a diner where they get their fortune told. Ishkq is told she’ll get married but she’s dismissive and as she’s about to leave she’s told she’ll meet her father which make her uneasy as she leaves.

Later the two exchange romantic lines and pick up lines at a wine store. Then head to the park and converse about their fears and the last time they cried. They converse on the bench all night and awaken the following morning. With a roll of the dice, its decided that they get coffee and go to Le Consulat Restaurant where Aakash prepares to leave and Ishkq expresses that she doesn’t like goodbyes. She goes out leaving Aakash who leaves afterward, but she returns to the restaurant with a gift realizing that he left.

Both resumes their lives Aakash back in London and Ishkq continuing her work. However, Aakash is invited to a wedding which he is reluctant to go to but decides to accept the invitation upon learning it will take place in Paris. Aakash searches for Ishkq’s address and hails a cab to get to her home when he spots Ishkq leaving in her car he tells the cabby to head her direction.

Aakash would arrive to the home of Marie, mother of Ishkq where he would express his fandom for Marie’s acting career. There he requests that Ishkq go with him to the wedding as she’ll make the affair bearable as he doesn’t like weddings as does Ishkq who indicates her hesitation. The two come to an agreement and make preparation to attend. There would be a Bollywood performance to which Ishkq receives with glee and partakes when the performer Salman Khan gets the audience involved.

Ishqu in Paris Poster
Ishkq in Paris (2013) Poster

 

 

After the festivities the two go out exploring Paris. Aakash takes Ishkq to the museum the following day to show her a portrait of Marie to which she become rattled. She reveals to Aakash that it was painted by her father who left her at the age of seven and it was her mother who raised her even learned Hindi so her daughter would know the language. Emotions run high as Aakash tries to get closer to Ishkq to open her up but both get into an argument about the fear of expressing their true feelings and they part.

Once again going on about their respective lives but with frustration over their memories of one another both have difficultly adjusting. Aakash is preparing to leave when Marie requests him to come to meet her. He arrives to Marie’s home and both discuss Ishkq and she asks if he loves her. Aakash tells her his feeling and mentions that Ishkq is afraid to open her heart for love because of her experiences and her mother’s with her father.

Aakash takes his leave to prepare for the trip back home. Marie calls Ishkq to her side to tell her the truth about her father. She tells her that they both divorced without ill feelings so they can pursue their careers. Marie requested to Ishkq’s father that he doesn’t get involved with Ishkq’s life as she felt she could provide for her. Her talk with Aakash made her realize that she was wrong and need to tell her daughter the truth.

Ishkq rushes off to the train station that Aakash is taking and finds him seated inside a coffee shop. Ishkq expresses her feelings to Aakash and then he responds by getting down in one knee and mimes the act of offering a ring to Ishkq who mimes with him both smiling as they gaze into each others eyes.

Ishkq and Aakash along with her mother go to India to wed and meet Aakash’s family who welcome her and her mother and celebrate the occasion. Donned in a bright orange colored Indian dress Ishkq partakes in dancing during the festivities when she and her father spot each other. Having awakened the inner child of Ishka, she runs to her father for a hug and her mother joins them as Aakash watches them with a warm smile.

The film conveys the mutual trust that couples must attain together in order to be one. When Ishkq tells Aakash, “I dislike marriage because I hate the word divorce,” it conveys the fear that people have when they when they give their heart to another who betrays the sentiment. The sense of betrayal stemmed from Ishkq’s understanding of her parents marriage from childhood. Through Aakash, love is shown to heal wound once both couples have express their feelings openly to one another despite fear of the unknown.

The protagonists’ relationship is comparable to Cameron Diaz’s Joy McNally and Ashton Kutcher’s Jack Fuller in What Happens in Vegas (2008) as there is tension with the duo, yet once feeling the absences of the other the couple begin their courtship. Ishkq in Paris will have audiences immersed in a world full of dance and colour for 96 minutes while staying true to the developing relationship between Ishkq and Aakash.

Principles Flare in Flying Fists

The sports genre in film features the art of the sport and often can include the training that goes into the sport. Bob Hill has been involved in The Flaming Disc (1920), Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923), Heroes of The Flames (1931), The Last Frontier (1932), Flying Wind (1941), and other films.

Directed by Bob Hill, Flying Fists (1937) depicts the resolution of a man with something to protect and the significance of principles. Donovan expresses the virtue of honesty as an important building block in character when he’s having a discussion with youngster at his facility. When he says to Dickie, “I wouldn’t do anything to make people lose faith in me,” he’s referring to treachery of deceit. Dickie mentions to him his words when Donovan struggled with thoughts of throwing a match.

The film begins in a forest, Champ Slug Cassidy (Guinn Williams) is chopping a tree with an axe as he’s supervised by Spider (Fuzzy Knight). Nearby, a lumberjack is chopping away at bark and wood debris which fly at Slug’s way. Annoyed, Slug confronts the chopper with his fists but is quickly knocked by the lumberjack. Spider witnessing the prowess of the man who knocked Slug makes an offer to the man named Donovan Smith (Herman Brix).

Many days later Donovan enters the boxing ring as “Chomper” and the crowd boos him even after he wins the match. Smith tells his manager that he isn’t content with his fame and reputation as “The man everybody hates” but there is no resolution. He goes out for a walk to somewhere where no one knows who he is. On the way he finds a stray dog which he takes in and names him Fella after getting the idea from a paperboy he cross paths with.

Passing by he saves Katherine Conrad (Jeanne Martel), a dance instructor from a man making forceful advances, upon looking at Donovan he flees after recognizing him. The following day the two go for a walk at a lake with Fella and discuss Katherine’s father affliction and her distain for fighters as she feels they’re all killers.

Donovan goes to his manager to ask him to tone down the “Killer” image and Spider makes an empty promise to do so. Spider and Slug discuss Donovan’s being affected by a woman which leads them to send a package to Katherine with an article about Chomper. Smith visits an upset Katherine who brings up his boxing and she indicates that she didn’t like that he hid that fact and then storms off. She watches Donovan left from the window accompanied by her father, Jim (John Eliott).

Smith confronts Spider where he learns their part in the package that was sent to Katherine and storms off renouncing. Katherine comes to the Spider’s office to ask for Donovan, feeling she was unfair to him, and there she learns of his decision.

Walking his dog Donovan comes across a stranded senior motorist who’s fighting off carjackers and comes to his aid. There he learns of Bill Fagin’s (J. Farell MacDonald) experience in boxing and the men form a friendship. Meanwhile, Ms. Conrad is giving dance lessons to children, however, a boy named Dickie (Dickie Jones) doesn’t want to dance, instead he wants to become a boxer. Katherine mentions that boxers are fast with their feet and dancing can help with fast movement.

A reporter comes to Donovan’s training ground to observe him in the ring. Dickie and friends watch Donovan train and fires a spitball at a trainee when Smith approaches the kids to ask who fired and gives a heart to heart talk about confidence in someone.

Days later Donovan walks Fella and runs into Katherine who’s walking her dog, Lady and tries to ward of Fella whom she didn’t recognize, the two catch up. Spider calls Donovan to offer him shake down money if he losses to their new boxer but he refuses. Smith visits Katherine when the doctor gives his prognosis and suggests that Jim goes to California for surgery. Katherine indicates to the doctor that they don’t have the funds while Donovan overhears. Pensive Smith goes to Spider to hear his proposition for the shake down match.

Word gets to Donovan’s training ground that he plans to sell out the match and a youngster, Monk (William Billy Benedict) overhears this. Feeling betrayed by the boxer with principles the tall kid runs off and bumps into Dickie and tells him what Donovan plans to do but he doesn’t believe it. The boys disagree and rough house each other when Donovan passing by stops the fight. Dickie asks Smith about his upcoming match that he won’t throw the bout but he walks off in silence.

Dickie goes to Katherine to tell her of Donovan’s plan with her father overhearing and expressing disdain for what boxing has become. Katherine explains to her father that Donovan is doing this for the medical bills but she doesn’t want him to throw the fight and heads out to find him.

Arriving at the locker room Bill expresses disappointment in his intention, when Katherine arrives to tell him not to lose, that her father a fellow boxer rather die than have him throw the match. Slug enters the locker to confirm the deal when Donovan calls off the plans and tells him he’ll fight his best.

Flying Fists - Poster
Flying Fists (1937) movie poster

 

Smith and his opponent enters the ring with an on looking crowd cheering for him. The men shake and the round begins, both boxers cross fists. Each exchange begins to wear on Smith which leads him to fall to the ground. As the referee makes the count Smith gets back in the fight. Eventually, he knocks down his opponent and wins the match with the crowd roaring.

The following day Spider and Slug go to Donovan’s training facility to make him an offer to join them. A bandaged Smith responds that they’ll have to ask his manager, Bill. Katherine jumps in and says that they’ll make Donovan a star and Bill agrees. Jim offers Dickie the paper to read about the fight but he said that he saw it. Fella and Lady are seen together with pups and everyone shares a laugh together on the sunny day.

As one of the first boxing films in the black and white cinema days, this 63 minute movie will have audience wanting to see the resolution of each of the characters personal hurdles and entertained by the action packed fights. The film has a modest character rise in fame only to leave it behind because it doesn’t give fulfillment. Flying Fists is a comeback story about a man once known as “The man everybody hate,” to one that a crowd cheers for. The perseverance of Donovan on the ring has he’s beaten is similar to of Rocky Balboa in Rocky (1976). Donovan Smith is a man that audience will be rooting for as he confronts the challenges in the ring called life.