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Film / Gojoe

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It's time to fight again.
Gojoe Reisenki (Gojoe: Spirit War Chronicle) is a 2000 fantasy/samurai film by avant-garde director Sogo Ishii. It takes the long-standing Japanese myth of Yoshitsune and Benkei and turns it into an External Retcon, telling that the valiant Yoshitsune now a power-mad mystic warrior, while the brawling Benkei was once a bloodthirsty samurai but is now a repentant Buddhist monk.

Not to be confused with G.I. Joe, of course.

This series provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: All bets are off.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Benkei uses a variation of this in the final duel: he wields a piece of sword as a weapon, all with his bare hand, to show his badass demon warrior side.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Benkei is dead, Tetsukichi is blind, and the Genji are waging war against the Heike again anyways, meaning even more war and famine will fall over Japan. However, the real Yoshitsune is dead and replaced by a much less psycho imposter, meaning the conflict will be less bloody, and at least civilian and monks will be spared. Benkei also died more or less in peace with itself, and the baby he revived is alive and well, symbolizing a new future.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Benkei uses his broken sword as a lightning rod in the, um, electrifying climax.
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  • Cool Sword: Onkirimaru... at least until it breaks.
  • Crapsack World: The rag-end of the Heian era, a period when it was not uncommon to see corpses abandoned in the streets. See Rashomon for more on that score.
  • Driven to Suicide: Suzaku commits seppuku in desperation after sensing his lord Tadanori's death.
  • Dual Wielding: Shanao sometimes does this.
  • Godhood Seeker: Watching the Crapsack World Japan has turned into, Shanao has concluded the gods have abandoned it and only a superpowered warrior like him can rule it.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Every single time Shanao swings his sword, this happens.
  • Human Notepad: A variation si the divine signal supposedly sent by Acalanatha to Benkei, which takes form of a Sanskrit inscription-shaped scar on his chest.
  • Jitter Cam: The fight sequences are long, long stretches of this, albeit at high shutter speeds (which makes them a little less jittery).
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  • Ninja: Shanao and his two cohorts definitely evoke this, as they dress in black, wear lacquered black facemasks, and kill everybody in the room mmany times.
  • Off with His Head!: At least one character loses his, on-camera.
  • Professional Killer: The three main villains slays people for the sheer joy and pleasure, and they're damn good at it, taking plenty of names with ease.
  • Rain of Arrows: Fired by the security forces at Gojoe Bridge, although they're mainly used to illuminate the battleground.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Benkei is the wise, serene blue oni to Tetsukichi's rough and abrasive red oni.
  • Reforged Blade: Onikirimaru, cortesy of Tetsukichi.
  • Screaming Birth: Asagiri, a woman Benkei lends aid to, has one of these.
  • Taking You with Me: Benkei's last trick against Shanao.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The weapons cache that Benkei brings to the final fight. Completely justified, as every single weapon is trashed in the fight.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: The homeless camp is like a Heian-era version of this.
  • Unknown Rival: Tankai is obssessed with defeating Benkei, but the latter wants nothing of it.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: The ultimate conclusion of the film. After trying to find his spiritual redemption through pacifism and Buddhist mumbo jumbo, Benkei discovers only a real fighter can save the day now. He relinquishes his vows at the end, fully embraces his demonic warrior side, and opens a 55-gallon drum of kickass on Shanao; only by that way he manages to kill him and save Japan's soul.


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