Afro Samurai (2007)

posted Mar 17, 2010, 5:51 PM by Jeff Brandt
Let's say you're like me and know very little about anime shows, but you do love samurai and Blaxploitation movies and hold a special place in your heart for anything involving Samuel L. Jackson . . . I'm not telling you to drop everything and pick up Spike TV's 2007 miniseries, Afro Samurai, but if you happen upon it on a grocery store discount rack (as I did at Schnucks) and have $10-15 dollars to spare, pick this up and give it a watch.

Sam Jackson stars in this five-episode series as the stoic title character as well his blabbermouth imaginary sidekick. The story is simple: revenge at all costs. Set in some timeless post-apocalyptic era, it's about a boy whose father who holds the title of "Number 1." This top honor for a swordsman, symbolized with a special headband, makes you immortal to all opponents -- with one important exception. The owner of the "Number 2" headband can fight you for it in a duel. You die, and the Number 2 ascends to Number 1. This happens at the beginning of the series, with a young Afro looking on as the grotesque Number 2 known as Justice (Ron Perlman) beheads his father. Then, intercut with Afro's upbringing as a samurai, we see our protagonist cutting his way to the top on the journey to reclaim the Number 1 headband, pining for the day he can avenge his father's death.

But, as you have probably guessed, the plot is hardly the point.

What makes Afro Samurai awesome is the acrobatic fight scenes with demented bad guys, set to a techno-funk score concocted by Wu-Tang Clan's The RZA (who also scored Kill Bill Vol. 1). Afro deflects bullets with a flick of his sword, hacks the heads off hordes of thugs without flinching, and even bests a robot version of himself. If you like the sight and sound of animated blood shooting out the stubs of severed limbs, Afro Samurai is worth your attention.


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