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ADV Films presents
Samurai Shodown: The Motion Picture (1993)

"You've played the game, now see the movie!"
- promotional tagline

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: May 14, 2003

Stars: Tiffany Grant, Matt Greenfield
Other Stars: Mark Williams
Director: Hiroshi Ishidori

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:19m:21s
Release Date: March 04, 2003
UPC: 702727055928
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ D+B+B- D+

DVD Review

Samurai Shodown is, as many might have guessed, a one-shot anime movie based on the video game series once produced by SNK Enterprises. The games were straightforward fighters in which players beat the crap out of each other (virtually) with all sorts of strange characters including a mutant dwarf with a scissor-hand and a Mesoamerican tribesman who threw skulls. As with many popular game franchises, an animated movie was created to benefit from the popular characters but, as usual, this is not always a good thing. Fans of SNK games have had a few movies to chew on, most notably the Fatal Fury films, but Samurai Shodown is a confusing attempt at adding substance and direction to a game that, at best, can be explained in 5 minutes.

As the film begins in 1787, six of Earth's holiest warriors (all based on characters from the video game like Haohmaru, Tam Tam, Charlotte, Wan Fu, etc..) are psychically summoned to do battle with Amasuka, a notorious demon that has been set lose upon humanity. Unfortunately, they fail and are killed. Before their souls can be completely destroyed they are whisked away to somewhere safe (which isn't explained too clearly) and they re-appear 100 years later to do battle with the risen Amasuka once again. This set up allows the Holy Warriors to also do battle with an assembled gathering of bad guys (also based on characters from the video games) who now serve Amasuka. Basically the heroes and villains trade blows until a final showdown can be arranged and evil must be fought; you've seen this before, really. Unfortunately, there is much that is either unexplained or hurried. For the most part, the plot is laughably slapped together as an excuse to use characters from the video game who, in all honestly, look quite silly teaming up as a force against evil. Their histories are buried and their motives are non-existent; they are simply the chosen warriors who must go forth and battle evil. Oddly enough, it's hard to get involved in the storyline when they initially die less than 8 minutes into the picture and then must "come back" 100 years later.

As one might expect, the swordsman Haohmaru is the central hero of the picture, and many of the characters from the game simply aren't to be found anywhere. True, the film would have gotten really crowded if everyone showed up for an appearance, but it weakens the idea of a Shodown movie even more. Because of the vague portions and simplistic plot, I really couldn't enjoy even the action scenes. I felt very confused, and I've played almost every incarnation of the Shodown game series. Yet again, it's proven that basing anime on fighting games just isn't a good idea. A paper-thin plot is fine for a game, but adjusting it and tweaking it into something suitable for a 60+ minute film is almost impossible to do without radically altering something that fans liked about the game. So, it becomes a 'catch-22' that leads to an ultimately shallow movie that didn't really satisfy any of my expectations.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The animation is quite well rendered and usually quite sharp. Some black level problems emerge here and there, but it's nothing serious. The overall image is unaffected by any additional issues and most should be pleased with the clean presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The basic 2.0 audio is without any negative issues, but isn't an amazing sound experience. Still, it's very clear and delivers the right kind of energy when needed. Presumably licensing rights issues prevented ADV from including the original Japanese dialogue so, as a result, the English dub is the only audio available. It's not a terrible dub, but it does have some rather uninspired and unemotional moments where the dialogue is read without much flair.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Full Metal Panic, Aura Battler Dunbine, RahXephon, Neo Ranga, Samurai X: Reflection, Noir
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Apart from ADV trailers, there are no additional features. The menus are basic, but functional, and the number of chapter stops is well proportioned to the film.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Hardcore fans of the original video games might get a kick out of this film, but I doubt it. It's a poor attempt at capitalizing on the games popularity to make a seriously mediocre film. It has no point, virtually no plot, and really nothing to recommend.


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