This 1980s classic (yes, there is such a thing) is not your regular kung-fu or samurai picture. Though you’ll be drooling for one by the time BUDO: THE ART OF KILLING is over. A docudrama describing a wee bit of the history of the samurai and martial arts and putting a shit-ton of fighting demonstrations on camera, BUDO is a must-see for any fan of the martial arts genre. Even general Asian cinema enthusiasts will find this an interesting part of the Japanese canon, for its cinematic and its anthropological qualities. It’s a singular documentary on a topic that has inspired widespread and zealous interest around the world, and it’s a subject which is obviously a major part of the culture. Plus, BUDO is a magnificently shot film. Besides the aesthetics of the choreographed fighting and breaking-shit demonstrations, there is the execution of the film itself. Sprinkled throughout are shots of vivid imagery, all of which expresses some part of that which is Japan. From breathtaking nature shots to striking visions of a person in samurai garb and Japanese monster (?) mask – I’m sorry I can’t tell you specifically what the mask is though it reminds me of things I’ve seen in Buddhist art and may very well come from that – BUDO frequently segues from one section to the next with thoughtfully, brilliantly composed moments of pure beauty; this is not to mention the knack for filming the action itself. Everything about BUDO is an aesthetic joy. It’s also an excellent concise compendium of a variety of popular martial arts styles, which brings us back around to the heart of BUDO. Check. It. Out.
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