Goemon Film review: “The Japanese Robin Hood”

Title: Goemon

Director: Kazuaki Kiriya

Writer: Kazuaki Kiriya; Tetsuro Takita

Cast: Yosuke Eguchi; Takao Osawa; Ryoko Hirosue; Gori; Eiji Okuda; Masato Ibu; Jun Kaname; Susumu Terajima; Arashi Fukasawa.

Duration: 128 minutes

Country: Japan

Year: 2009.

Goemon is a 2009 History/Fantasy/action japanese movie which tells the story of Ishikawa Goemon a semi-legendary character from the late 16th century who is kind of the Robin Hood from Japan. Like his british counterpart he stole from the rich and powerful and gave it to the poor so they could survive as well as fight the japanese government at the time (this is what they show more in the movie). I say semi-legendary because apparently he really existed but his abilities had been greatly exaggerated after his death.

The plot is as follows “Ishikawa Goemon is a former Shinobi of the Japanese Warlord Oda Nobunaga. After his Lord was betrayed and killed by a retainers and a new government was formed, Goemon decided not to serve the government and left claiming to want to be free. He is now a renowned thief who steals from the rich to give to the poor. After stealing an apparently empty box he becomes involved in a plot involving the death of his former master and the current head of government’s (Hideyoshi Toyotomi) involvement on it. He sets on a quest of revenge and aims to set things right meeting several people from his past along the way”

My opinion: I think the story of this movie is really entertaining I had a really good time watching it. That being said I thing that it goes on for too long, and what I mean with is not that the movie is boring far from it but that the plot has enough material to have two movies instead of one. When the Main plot is done the films continues and ends with something it could have told and shown better in a sequel.

The main character in this movie is really good I liked following him around as a main character and I rooted for him from beginning to end. He has an interesting back-story and most of his actions even his mistakes are understandable. I also like that despite being a semi-legendary hero and being a hell of a fighter he has things that make him human, he messes up and we see him see and try to deal with consequences of his actions. He is overall a rather complete character.

The supporting characters are not all as good as him. We have some really interesting ones like Saizo who is the shinobi of Ishida Mitsunari, Goemon’s fellow pupil under Hattori Hanzo and also his friend. Who at first seems like he is going to be just the villain’s minion but ends up being more than that. The character ends up growing on you as you watch the movie and his story on it is interesting and tragic. Cha Cha, Oda Nobunaga’s niece whom Goemon was in charge of protecting in the past, she is not as interesting of a character but she does add some things to the movie and she is a likable character, but a bit of a damsel in distress. The other two supporting characters Sasuke, another ninja, who is Goemon’s companion. For me this character was rather annoying and I didn’t care for him too much, I even ended up hating him a little. And the Kid Koheita, he is taken in by Goemon after his mom dies and while he does have kind of his own arc it only has to do with the main plot in the beginning from then on becomes rather irrelevant to the story.

In this story there is also the man who would become the future shogun of Japan after the battle of Sekigahara Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is on the movie to gain power. He moves around and manipulates people into doing his dirty work but he is not all bad at least in this movie he is portrayed as someone cunning but not too cruel who is more or less receptive to the idea of a world without wars (with him at the top of course). His subordinate Hattori Hanzo is in the movie because he is the master of Saizo and Goemon but he doesn’t do much more than obey his own lord, first Oda’s and then Tokugawa’s, orders.

The villains in the movie unlike the main characters are rather generic and not all that interesting. Toyotomi Hideyoshi is just the typical power-hungry villain who’d do anything to become more powerful. And Ishida Mitsunari just wishes to seize power for himself. Their motivation is just their own ambition which comes from being born as peasants apparently. They are both overly cruel and don’t have a single redeeming quality so it’s very easy to root against them.

The acting in this movie is generally good in my opinion with the actors who played Saizo and Goemon acting the best out of the whole cast.

I’d like to warn you the movie does have a lot of CGI which bothered me while watching some scenes. The CGI itself was normal, it didn’t make the movie unwatchable with how bad it was but it wasn’t spectacularly done. The action scenes are good for the most part and some of them while not perfect are really good.

So having said all that is Goemon a Five Stars movie? No, but it’s a Four out of Five Stars movie and a must watch in my opinion. Now here is the trailer uploaded to YouTube by Aeon Pix.