I’ve always supported both student and independent films because creators are not yet boxed in by market demands and production company pressures. The indy film scene is the place for visionary art and refinement of technique. Most indy work was produced with a very small budget but due to advanced technology and the sheer skill of all these new talented folks some films do not look like they experienced production disadvantages in any way.
Below is my review of the work after purchasing a download of Ai at Heretic for $1.99.
“Ai” is certainly worth more than just a cup of coffee.
The film does contain violence (limited close ups and some blood but overall not as violent as most Hollywood films).
The film’s content was actually closer to 10 min and in that short amount of time there was a good narrative (modern samurai movies are no different from Hollywood flicks in that they usually have little or no story). Ai is every comic/manga fan’s dream and yet it tries to kick up all the cliches we’ve seen a hundred times a bit higher (in a good way).
Rather than opting for the “supergirl” angle, what you get is a gritty and
raw work without going overboard with the “stylized” movements we see
in modern J-popish samurai movies (such as the forgettable blood-fest
AZUMI or Tarantino’s homage film KILL BILL). In fact it’s better to watch a 10 min story which gets to the point and has some elegant action rather than buy a dvd of AZUMI. Although Azumi was in inspiration for Ai, the latter adopts a more mature style.
Cinematography was very well done except one teeny tiny moment whereI noted an unintentional wobble. Color was spectacular. Digital openingand closing is superb for a work with this budget.
Choreography was GREAT! This is due to the fact that the cast has some experienced actors on board and it really paid off. You have to watch some of the movements carefully because there are some good details in the fight scene.
It’s my understanding that the filmmaker greatly condensed the entire
script due to budget limitations and yet he still managed to create something to be proud of. If it was the filmmaker’s
intent to demonstrate he can direct action, then he certainly succeeded.
My complaint is that the teaser doesn’t do the actual film justice and perhaps the storyboard and action rehearsal video here may be a better sample.
Enjoy Ai for what it is, a brief skillfully crafted cinematic escape which is part of the martial arts media “pop culture” but elevates the genre with substance and class.
So today, don’t buy coffee and a pastry…just buy this movie and have your
pastry. You’ll be glad you did (AND) you’ll be supporting an indy filmmaker too.