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Film / Azumi

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Azumi (2003) is an extremely violent action movie by Ryuhei Kitamura, based on a manga series created by Yū Koyama, focusing on the life of Azumi, a young woman brought up as part of a team of assassins charged with killing three warlords that threaten Feudal Japan with an agenda of war and bloodshed. It begins an indeterminate number of years after the Battle of Sekigahara, but as the story progresses and Azumi begins her missions, the manga introduces the characters into mainstream history. Many of the early assassination missions that Azumi undertakes are the assassinations of the prominent supporters and generals of the Toyotomi Clan, against whom the Tokugawa Clan expected to again go to war. The manga 'reveals' that many of the Toyotomi leaders who conveniently died of diseases or accidents prior to the final confrontation between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa were actually victims of assassinations by Azumi and her comrades.

In 2005, a sequel was made, Azumi 2: Death or Love, featuring Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill fame and co-written by cult anime director Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

The movies contain examples of:

  • Badass Cape: Azumi wears a dark blue cape in the first movie, in the climatic town battle as she wipes out dozens upon dozens of enemies in one lengthy battle sequence. She ditches the cape in the sequel, however.
  • Body Double: Kato in the first movie, after hearing of Asano's death, decide to employ a double in his place. Which works, the following day have Azumi and friends ambushing Kato's carriage, with Azumi kicking the carriage off a hill, but the person who fell to his death in the carriage is Kato's double, with the real Kato nowhere in sight.
  • Cumbersome Claws: The second movie, Death or Love, has Azumi being menaced by a group of ninjas armed with Wolverine Claws strapped to their wrists, allowing them to climb buildings, leap all over the place and perform all kinds of summersaults without becoming loose. But this backfires for the ninja leader — as he missed a swing at Azumi, the leader accidentally stabs his claws into a guardrail, and quickly gets his entire hand hacked off by Azumi before she kills him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Most of the fights in the first movie, at least in Azumi's case. All but one of her True Companions eventually fall to the waves of enemies sent against them, but Azumi always survives without even a scratch. By the end of the movie, her personal kill count is in the hundreds, albeit aided by a bit of Unfriendly Fire.
    • Subverted in the second movie. Azumi defeats all of the elite ninja, but is poisoned in one of the later fights, and would have died without Ginkaku's assistance.
  • Deadly Graduation: The ten young assassin students were told to pair up with the person they liked the most before their final exam. Then they were told to fight each other to the death.
  • Determinator: Aya Ueto did many of her own stunts, during the filming of one fight on the first day she was struck on the forehead with a prop sword. The Director was worried that the injury might cause her to pull out of the production. She returned to the set the very next day ready to continue filming.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Saru delivers a Mercy Kill to Hyuga even though Bijomaru deliberately injured him in such a way that his death would be slow and painful.
  • Expy: Roppa from the second film is a live-action Tessai. They're both balding, hulking brutes who uses giant boomerangs that slices his unfortunate victims into bits, are The Dreaded among the villains, and their comeuppance involves them getting killed by their own weapons.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • Roppa has a giant Battle Boomerang that slices anybody unfortunate to get in its way into half.
    • Tsuchigumo gets sliced into sizeable chunks by his own Razor Floss.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Both movies delivers bloody deaths in gallons, thanks to the setting where everyone uses katanas and edged weapons to slice and dice each other apart.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A few baddies in the second movie.
    • Roppa is blown up by his own bandoleer of dynamites.
    • Azumi vs Tsuchigumo, in a bamboo forest booby-trapped by Tsuchigumo's Razor Floss. Azumi wins the battle by slicing at the bamboo trees holding the wires in place, causing Tsuchigumo's wires to hit himself instead and slicing him into bloody chunks.
  • Little Miss Badass: Azumi herself. In the manga, she is barely pubescent, and Toho casts the then-18-year-old Aya Ueto for the movie adaptation, though, and she turns out to be lethal enough to wipe out an entire town of enemy soldiers.
  • No Social Skills: Growing up in isolation (and learning the fine art of bloody murder, lest we forget) deprives all of the ten of these.
  • Off with His Head!: Bijoumaru in the first movie's finale, by Azumi's katana. He didn't even realize she had inflicted a fatal blow on him, but then a fine red line starts forming on his throat...
  • One-Woman Army: More like One Teenage Girl Army, but the first movie had Azumi marching into a town full of enemies, and slaughtering everyone in it in an excessively lengthy battle scene.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Subverted - the ten are all war orphans, but being trained as killers turns it into an Orphanage Of Doombringers, until... see Deadly Graduation above.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Azumi in the first movie; after befriending Yae and deciding to leave her career as an assassin, in her next scene Azumi is in a feminine-looking kimono and her hair undone.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Azumi vs. Bijomaru at the climax of the first movie, sort of. They spend some time running and jumping around, trading ineffectual attacks, then they pause in the plaza, Bijomaru gives Azumi his Worthy Opponent line, and this is how the duel ends.
  • Something about a Rose: One character, a long-haired, white-clad, psychotic biseinen, first appears holding a red rose, for no other apparent reason than to look cool.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: After Azumi and her comrades easily dispose of a bunch of nameless Mooks, the Evil Overlord decides to set an ambush with his better-trained ninja - who are promptly slaughtered. At this point he enlists a band of bloodthirsty mercenaries. When this still doesn't work, he goes into a prison to release a psychotic mass murderer (who happens to be a master swordsman) and gives him the rest of his troops, plus an entire town of cutthroats as backup.
  • The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Bijomaru uses a sword with no handguard, to show he's such a skilled fighter that he never needs to parry. Differs from most examples of this trope in that he dodges the attacks instead of just No Selling them.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Late in the first movie's finale, the mercenaries led by Bijoumaru, having a dispute over the soldiers indiscriminately firing their arrows and killing a bunch of their numbers, decides to turn on their employers. The unexpected in-fighting results in three parties - Azumi, the mercenaries, and the soldiers - slicing up each other at the same time.
  • Terrible Trio: The first movie has the Sanjiki brothers, a trio of bandits who serves the villains. Their first scene have them heartily drinking sake in a mansion full of dead bodies, slaughtered by the trio, and later on they gleefully partake in massacring a band of travelling circus performers, killing all except Yae, where Azumi and two of her brothers arrived in time in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: at the end of the first movie, the one remaining warlord is enjoying a leisurely cruise to his next destination, his ship practically in the middle of the ocean as he invites his bodyguard to join him at the onsen. Cue Azumi leaping out of the ocean to finish him off.
  • Wolverine Claws: The second movie has a band of enemy ninjas who tried to rough up Azumi and friends with clawed gauntlets. The impracticality of using this type of weapon is shown when the ninja's leader tries to fight Azumi; a missed swing results in the ninja leader being Left Stuck After Attack, his claws embedded into a guardrail, at which point Azumi hacks off his clawed arm before slicing his throat.
  • You Are Already Dead: It takes around 5 seconds for Bijoumaru to realize he's defeated. But then his head rolls off his shoulders.