Wolf vs. Sheepdog

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 1

CASTLE OF OWLS WEEK continues with some miscellaneous awesomeness centered on the the conflict between Juzo (Ryutaro Otomo) and Gohei (Minoru Ohki). As I’ve mentioned previously, this initially plays out like the old Sam the Sheepdog vs. Ralph the Wolf Looney Toons, with the rivals being friendly and familiar, then punching-in and letting the sparks fly like there’s no tomorrow.

The initial reunion of the clansmen on-the-lam: a warm, nostalgic meeting where the appreciation the two have for each other and their entwined past is evident. It's also the last friendly conversation they have...
Part of the 'owls' symbolism is the notion of the hunter in the trees and the perspective of the hunted on the ground, like a mouse in the brush.
As shuriken come out of nowhere and 'thunk' in trees barely missing their targets, pans of ominous darkened tree canopies are intercut, producing a real tension, even a sense of dread. This is the one ninja movie that really conveys how terrifying a shuriken fight in the dark would actually be.
After an epic struggle, it comes down to man-on-man in a torrential downpour, with a symbolic chain line tying the two combatants together.


The last time Juzo uses his sword is not to kill the shogun, but rather to cut that chain, and thus his bounds to the ultimately self-destructive shadow life.

And a note to makers of new ninja films, the above image is beyond F’N AWESOME, and it’s just one of countless brilliant shots in this masterpiece. Man and weapon composed with striking geometry. Actors convincing of rage, angst, fear, and pain with only their eyes visible. Shadow skills used in dark environs with delicate lighting being just enough to expose all the action. It’s ALL here.

Castle of Owls should be the standard to which you craft your trade… NOW GET TO IT!

  1. Vintage Ninja

    […] still of what I’ve described as the “Wolf vs. Sheepdog” dynamic in the relationship and rivalry of Juzo and […]

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