Aragami: the Raging God of Battle
Year: 2002
Length: 80min
Future Challenger
Ryuhei Kitamura
Action Director:
Yuji Shimomura

Average: 3
Aragami: The Raging God of Battle

This was part of the Duel Project, a directors' duel between Ryuhei Kitamura and Yukihiko Tsutsumi. The rules were: finish film in around 7 days, 2-3 actors, 1 room, and 1 character has to die. Yukihiko shot 2LDK, a movie about two girls who share an apartment battling it out for a single acting role. Ryuhei made Aragami. He explains that filming was a "battle against yourself, the situation, time, and money." According to Ryuhei at the Tokyo International Fantastic Movie Festival, Yukihiko sent him a letter admitting defeat.

It starts with a dying samurai being brought to a secluded mountain temple by his wounded friend (played by Hideo Sakaki). The friend dies, while the far more wounded samurai miraculously recovers. He is very grateful to his caretakers, a mysterious woman who never speaks and a charismatic man who appears to run the temple. They treat him to good food and exotic foreign drinks. But his pleasant stay quickly becomes a nightmare, for nothing is as it seems.

"A man may look decent but he may betray his friends. There are prostitutes who look pure. A man may look evil, but he may be decent," explains his host, who reveals himself to be none other than Aragami, an immortal who lives for the thrill of battle... and that the samurai just ate his friend's specially prepared liver, making him immortal, as well. Aragami says that he has spent many years looking for a man worthy enough to kill him, and asks the freaked out samurai to duel him as payment for saving his life. They drink some more, and philosophize about the complexities of their predicament, but eventually get down to business.

Tak has a very small role here. I didn't think it could get smaller than in Godzilla: Final Wars, yet I was wrong. He comes in at the very end as a future challenger, in his black leather and sunglasses, armed to the teeth. He lays down his gun samurai-style before him, and we are to assume the new duel begins, because the movie ends... grr. Still, it is a good movie. The character of Aragami (played by Masaya Kato) is very interesting. One of the swords he used was actually Hideo Sakaki's sword from Versus.

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DISCLAIMER: All images copyright Tak Sakaguchi, Ryuhei Kitamura, Yudai Yamaguchi, Yuji Shimomura, and all respective owners whose work, support, distribution, etc contributed to the making of the movies, interviews, documentaries, etc. I do not know Tak Sakaguchi and have nothing to do with him (yet?). I am just here to admire his work. No copyright infringement is intended.