If it's crap ... We'll tell you
During the American invasion of Saipan, Captain Oba is the highest ranking survivor after a banzai attack on the enormous American presence on the island. He leads a small band of soldiers to resist the American army and serve as protection to the remaining civilians until well after the war is over.
As a fan Asian films and culture, there's always this cloud hanging over my head. For China it's the Chinese Communist Party, and for Japan it's World War II. Nowadays I feel like Japan pretty much agrees that they were the asshole in that situation. They attacked us first. They sided with the Nazi's (history's go-to villains) and, as you can see in this film, they would not stop fighting until we dropped a second goddamned nuke on them. So depiction of a Japanese WW2 war hero is a hard thing to swallow... I think even for the people making this film. Now, when you're talking about a WW2 film that tries to present both sides of the war with humanity, it's impossible to omit "Letters From Iwo Jima" which did such a great job at it. In a somewhat similar narrative device this film aims to depict things from both the American and the Japanese perspectives. Unfortunately for this film "Letters from Iwo Jima" exists, doing everything this film wants to do a million times better. Especially when it comes to fleshing out three dimensional characters. The acting and the dialogue on the American side is especially awful. The characters are all flat, and have a solitary motivation or characteristic. And for a movie that is supposed to be about the pride of the Japanese warrior, even I thought Oba was kinda being a dick by the end of the film. I was like "Just surrender already! We're not going to kill you or usurp your culture! We just don't want you shooting at us anymore!"
Some of the effects and the war sequences in this film (especially near the beginning) were way better done than I expected. It's not particularly an exciting movie... most of the film is just diatribes about how they'll never give up while hiding in the woods, or American soldiers just trying to figure out how to bring this thing to an end.
Oba was (according to the movie, and probably IRL) called "the fox" because he always had another trick to prevent getting caught. This film could've used a lot more of that instead of the constant reminder of Japanese honor... but even that wouldn't have saved this film. For a movie that's trying to depict the complex emotions of men in war, the film doesn't flesh out it's characters in a complex way. There's too much that's cheezy about this film and for all the praise heaped on the honor of the samurai, the film doesn't do a great job of justifying it.
Upcoming requests include Lone Wolf and Cub Series, Beast Cops, Seven Swords, Battle of Wits, Breaking News, Tae Guk GI, and Assembly