Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98, Blu-ray: $39.98
Running Time: 97 minutes
Rating: TV M
Release Date: Available Now
Return of the Number One Headband.
Life is not easy for a black man, especially if that black man just so happens to be one of the best swordsmen that has slain countless men with his sharp blade and surreal skills. His path had taken him to many strange places in this post-apocalyptic world but in the end he survived the many trials, battles and inner demons. Oh, but just when you thought you were out, Afro, so outrageous bad guy always pulls you back in for more bloodshed. Afro returns in the 2-disc Special Edition Director’s Cut of Afro Samurai: Resurrection.
When we see Afro (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) again in Resurrection, he’s living in peace in almost total isolation. While it sounds like he is starting to live a tranquil life, he certainly doesn’t seem to look happy living this way. It doesn’t take too long before he’s attacked and my Kuma who still wears a huge teddy bear mask and is still more machine than man. The real culprit behind the attack is a very buxom attractive woman that doesn’t reveal herself to him … just yet. She has sworn revenge on Afro – which is nothing new to him – but this woman just so happens to have his father’s jawbone she dug out of the grave.
The woman in the very revealing kimono is none other than Lady Sio (voiced by “Kill Bill” and “Charlie’s Angels” star Lucy Liu) who – at one point – knew Afro very well. In fact, their paths have crossed when Sio was a child adopted into nobility while her brother Jinno studied the art of the blade in the Academy along with Afro and three other fellow students. With the aid of Professor Dharman, Kuma and three other allies, Lady Sio intends on killing Afro using somebody very dear to him.
And so Afro picks up his blade once again in search of the Number One Headband. Once again, Ninja Ninja (who is still the figment of his imagination) is prodding him on to go on this journey before Lady Sio makes good on her threat to play around with the body of his dead father. Of course, finding the Number One Headband isn’t going to be easy with numerous foes trying to get a piece of him, such as the time he encounters a group of villagers that want revenge for loved ones and friends they lost to Afro.
His search for the Number One Headband leads to Afro saving a boy from a kidnapper. The boy’s father, a young man named Shichigoro is a nice enough guy that – if things had been different – he could have very well been Afro’s close friend. It doesn’t take us long to figure out that Shichigoro actually has the Number One Headband, leading up to a fight in the middle of a rave/festival. This is actually one of the more exciting battles in Resurrection, actually.
Afro then encounters Sio’s other three associates but not before shattering Afro’s confidence by revealing a sample of what she has in store for him. Afro’s battle with the trio is also not a pleasant experience seeing as there’s a connection between them and him. Meanwhile, Sio and Kuma unveil their secret weapon in an awesome finally battle.
Unfortunately, the plot isn’t as strong as it could have been and it simply feels like we’re revisiting familiar plot elements. While I don’t mind constantly having Lady Sio’s big bosoms pushed on me, it’s certainly annoying hearing her constantly reminding us that she wants to make Afro pay for what she’s done to her and the others. She already established her need for revenge so we don’t really have to hear it again … more than thrice even. Also, while I love Sam Jackson, I find myself being more annoyed with Ninja Ninja than I did in the original series. Yes, he’s the “voice” of reason for Afro as well as his inner self that longs to be more talkative, but he’s just not funny and his lines will seriously make your eyes roll. Other than that, there are some great performances all around.
The 2-disc Special Edition Director’s Cut is the way to go if you liked the flavor of raw, uncut and uncensored animation. I’m one of those fans that stayed away from Spike’s presentation and waited for the Director’s Cut with all the blood and nudity. That’s just me, though. This is also the way to go if you want good extra material (the second disc is dedicated to bonus material) and a 24-page booklet filled with artwork.
In the end, however, it’s the quality of the overall package that is important and Afro fans will find something to like about Afro Samurai: Resurrection. While it’s far from perfect and surprisingly disappointing in terms of the plot, the action has a way of pulling you in and Afro is still one of the coolest heroes you’ll meet in this crazy hip-hop fusion of Japanese and Western mythology.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
After being out of action for over a year, Afro is brought back into the slaughter once again. This time, however, the villain comes in the form of Lady Sio who will stop at nothing to get her revenge on Afro … by resurrecting his dead father. The plot could have been better but at least there are great fighting sequences and Afro is just too cool for words.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The gorgeous animation looks great on DVD and even more so if you’re watching it on high-definition. The blood really flies in this unedited Director’s Cut package and the visuals are still crazy in a good kind of way.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
On top of the fact that the voice work includes talents such as Lucy Liu, Mark “Skywalker” Hamill and even The RZA, there’s also voice work from veteran anime voice talents such as Yuri Lowenthal. Of course, the star of the show is Samuel L. Jackson and he’s still awesome. The original music is off-the-hook and The RZA definitely delivers in this one.
The first disc with the movie contains some trailers but the really juicy extras come from the second disc that offers a number of special features and interviews with the cast, American and Japanese crew as well as RZA in his own featurette. There’s also a feature on Afro Samurai: The Game, video commentary with creator Takashi “Bob” Okazaki and a look at Afro Samurai at San Diego Comic-Con 2008. Oh, there’s also a 24-page booklet with concept art.
While the plot is contrived and recycled, there are times when Resurrection really shines through. It’s action sequences are still outrageously exhilarating and well animated. It’s easy to enjoy Afro’s fighting skills but – thanks to the plot – it holds Resurrection back from being that amazing Afro Samurai sequel. Still, there’s more than enough here to really sink your teeth into, Afro fans.