"Moon Over Tao" is a wacky, entertaining movie that successfully blends together the samurai, fantasy and sci-fi genres. It feels very much like a retro-piece with a lot of silly effects and of course, chambara level of gore and blood splatter. Direcor Keita Amemiya directs it accordingly with a less focus on story than in action. And it pays of in the end.
Story is that of two men, one a Buddhist monk with magical powers and the other a highly skilled samurai warrior with an indestructible sword. The two have began a journey to discover the source of the indestructible swords. Along the way they meet a young girl working as a beekeeper. Respectively the girl later meets three alien samurai chicks that start fighting without a reason, as one of them is mortally wounded she enlists the girl to help them find and stop a the strange beast/weapon. After a mutual agreement with the help of the two men, the three of them set of and discover the source of the indestructible swords and the strange beast/weapon. It does not take long before said beast/weapon is awaken and then all hell brakes loose.
To put it simply, the story is silly. Characters are as complicated as those found in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie, some even border on the annoying level, yes I do mean the girl beekeeper with that. All you really need to know is who are the good guys, who are the bad and how many walking meat-bags are there on their side. In this case a lot. And thank God for that, because fights scenes tend to get bloody with some good all classic chambara effects, such as the blood geysers and chopped of limbs. It get's even better when the beast/weapon gets loose. You see it has a certain habit that involves eating it's opponents. Amemiya does a good job with the action and gore and it's all just fun to watch. Choreography is reasonably well done, with the individual showdowns standing up from the more massive scenes. Creature effects are surprisingly good, combining CGI and a designed prop for close-up use. While everything else is done in the old fashioned way, meaning none to minimal use of any other CGI. One other concern that Amemiya has with "Moon Over Tao" is the ever lasting question of how many people can cram in an action scene. Luckily the cannon fodder is plenty. The showdown between our two warriors and the evil warlord's henchmen is pretty massive in terms of body count and respectively entertaining.
"Moon Over Tao" should not be taken as a serious movie, or as a highly intellectual movie. Those that do take it as such will definitely hate it. What Keita Amemiya really made is a homage to the old days of chambara movies where gore and wackiness was abundant. And really this is for people that loved this type of cinema.
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