Every now and again comes a film that gives you something you have never seen before. More rare still, is a film that gives you something you’ve never seen before…and is absolutely remarkable. Till Klienert’s Der Samurai is such a rare delight; it is a stunning and unique thriller with an absolute identity that fully immerses and enthralls.

When a mysterious package arrives at the home of young police officer Jakob, addressed to a ‘Lone Wolf,’ little does he know the chain of events that this one item will unleash. Late in the night, his phone rings, and the intended recipient of the package requests Jakob to deliver it. Intrigued more than put out, Jakob goes to a lonely, decrepit house in the woods and finds a man wearing a dress and make up, waiting for the samurai sword hidden in the package, so he can begin a rampage through the sleepy village. Jakob will have to discover who this debauched maniac is and what drives him?

Der Samurai is a film of incredible style and creativity. It is a complete vision, absolute and moving. It at once moves gently with an ethereal beauty, and yet with a purpose and directness, the dynamism of genre cinema; the result is a sleek and relentless ride, as beautiful and streamlined as the Samurai’s sword. The ultimate example of this creativity can be seen in the most unique and expressive death I can ever remember seeing; to discuss it would be to undermine its impact, but safe to say, it completely embodies the beauty and strangeness that defines Klienert’s film. Klienert also channels the imagery of the fairytale, in a similar fashion to Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves (a film Klienert himself notes as an inspiration). Using the wolf as a symbol of wild nature, the other, freedom in animal form; the wolf becomes a symbol of what is lurking within Jakob, and what is unleashed in the samurai. The beast is the sexual awakening, one that draws the central figures together. Through the fantastical, this sense of the fairytale and the fluidity between tenderness and violence, Klienert creates the atmosphere of the dream, the bizarre space inbetween. The world of these ‘lone wolves’ transform the real and reveal the insanity beneath; the truth beneath the lie, the wolf from beneath the sheep’s clothing.

Indeed, the wolves that drive the narrative embrace the same clarity of style and tone that their director conveys; Michel Diercks delivers an excellent performance as the repressed and dedicated Jakob, a man whose absolute dedication and self-sacrifice goes un-celebrated and is in fact, mocked by locals. Diercks perfectly captures Jakob’s innocence, almost a calmness that trembles across his features, and also, the frustration, the overwhelming desire building within; that animal waiting to burst out of his skin. Pit Burowski’s cross dressing samurai IS the animal free, and his interpretation is staggering, it is a masterpiece of acting, rich with the kind of wild abandon and absolute immersion into character that separates memorable performances from unforgettable performances. He is an abstract, his freedom of self and overwhelming sexual energy make him beyond sexual norms; in his extravagant outfit, he challenges the conventions, he is free to be what he wants, and in a way, becomes an object of desire in the sheer sexual power. In his frenzy and childish abandon, Burowski’s samurai reflects the mania of Heath Ledger’s Joker and Rutger Hauer’s turns in Blade Runner and The Hitcher, and ultimately, deserves to stand alongside these legendary performances.

Der Samurai is an experience I personally will not forget. It is absolutely gripping, tense, playful, knowing, explosive, extravagant, irreverent, surreal…and yet indefinable. As a work of pure sensation, a film that is dynamic in a way that only the master works of genre cinema can truly conjure; Der Samurai is nothing short of a classic in the making. Emotive and fierce, in my opinion, Der Samurai is the film of the festival, and will go down as a cult classic of this generation.

 

VERDICT: [rating=5]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk