Der Samurai, 2014
Written and directed by Till Kleinert
Starring Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowksi, Uwe Preuss, Kaja Blachnik, Ulrike Hanke-Haensch, Christopher Kane, Ulrike Bliefert
A transvestite with a samurai sword wreaks havoc around a small German town and it’s up to Jacob to stop him
In a small and quiet German village, a wolf is starting to roam the woods and while investigating this, young police officer Jakob ends up delivering a package to a man in a dress. The package is a samurai sword and it leads to an all-night chase to stop “Der Samurai” from killing innocent people in this fairly mundane thriller that isn’t without charm.
While on the surface Der Samurai is about a man in a dress running around with a sword, it’s really a metaphor for Jakob coming to terms with his sexuality. He lives a very quiet life only living to work and look after his grandmother and he often has visions of kissing women, but never seems to act upon them. When he encounters Der Samurai, the two spark a very unique kind of relationship filled with heaps of sexual tension. Der Samurai features a very smart script by writer and director Till Klienert and this level of subtly throughout the movie (save for a couple of overt scenes) is very intriguing.
Michel Diercks and Pit Bukowksi are absolutely superb together and their dynamic really sells the movie. Diercks is perfectly quiet as the confused Jakob and he plays beautifully off Bukowksi’s Samurai. When the two are faced against each other in a battle of words, it’s really something to behold and the build to their final act confrontation at the end of the night is masterful. The two work this underlying sexual tension expertly, but never go all out on screen to make the message and metaphor obvious.
But for everything positive to say about Der Samurai (and there is a bit), the film as a whole is a rather bland. Even at a brisk 80 minutes, Der Samurai feels like it would have made for a much better short as the plot drags its feet from scene to scene. Credit to Klienert, he paces his gore and “horror” scenes well and although they are sparse, they have a lot of creative flair. The movie in general is constructed and directed very well, but the story is at the heart of the problem. Perhaps Klienert got so wrapped up in the “feeding the wolf” arthouse story that he forgot to add some extra drive and character into the script.
Der Samurai is far from a bad movie, but it’s not really worth your time either. It will play very well to the “arthouse” crowd who will lap up its unashamedly “gay values” and visual risk taking (including a full on shot of an erect penis), but the rest of the cinema-going audience will only enjoy so much. Klienert is a very clever director and and the two leads are a great, but Der Samuari‘s failings in storytelling let the side down.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.