|The Blood of Rebirth (2009)|
|Starring:||Tatsuya Nakamura, Mayuu Kusakari and Kiyohiko Shibukawa|
|The Plot: The film deals with a popular Japanese legend about a wandering adventurer known as Oguri (full name Oguri Hangan Daisukeshige), but our story here ventures down a different path than most versions of the story. Here, Oguri (played by Tatsuya Nakamura) is a masseuse who, while wandering the forest, encounters lord Daizen (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) who has contracted an STD that has caused his testicles to swell to mammoth proportions. While searching for anyone and everyone who can possibly help him with his ordeal, he comes in contact with Oguri who doesn’t want to be burdened by staying in one place for too long. However, after some idle threats the masseuse ends up agreeing to a partnership with the evil lord. Unfortunately, the lord begins to feel jealous about Oguri and his ability to pleasure others. After seeing his virginal future lover Tarue (whom he plans to save until after he is cured of his STD) given a massage by the wanderer, he makes a decision to kill off the masseuse. A feat that he accomplishes that very evening. When the masseuse awakens in the afterlife he is given the choice to do whatever he wishes. Rather than moving on to heaven, the masseuse decides to return to earth. In order to do that he will have to return as a hungry ghost and must remain in a sitting fashion, to be dragged across the countryside by whatever stranger agrees to do the job. When he reaches his destination, the spring of rebirth, he will be able to fully return to human form!|
Surprisingly, with all of the problems that The Blood of Rebirth may actually have, mixing Toyoda’s style into this period piece actually isn’t one of them. Truthfully, if there is a problem with the influx of style here, it may be that Toyoda is too excessive here. Long known for his use of slow motion and thudding rock music film scores, Toyoda once again incorporates these ideas into his film but with The Blood of Rebirth the project begins to feel as if it is long on style and short on content. Clocking in with a running time of 83 minutes, this is not a terribly long feature and unfortunately there are a tremendous number of scenes that seem to drag it out until the pacing simply falls apart. The majority of these moments come during the latter half of the production, but the stronger opening minutes aren’t enough to really save the film. Although that sounds depressingly negative when talking about the film, this isn’t a terrible piece of work by any stretch of the imagination. Watching the film and taking into consideration that this is an experiment in style and that it pushes the boundaries between the musical and the cinematic… this can be a rewarding watch, I have no questions about that. However, as far as a continuation in the progressive career of Toshiaki Toyoda, sure this is a bit of a disappointment.