BASED ON a factual Japanese Robin-Hoodstyle bandit from the late 1500s, Goemon is a historical fantasy re-imagining of the exploits of one Ishikawa Goemon. From a young age Goemon is taken under the wing of the warlord Nobunaga Oda and trained as a deadly ninja. As a teenager, Goemon becomes jaded with the ninja lifestyle and longs for freedom, becoming a legendary master thief who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Eventually, however, the true and sinister details of his master’s death come to the surface and Goemon is drawn into a quest for justice.
While many of the characters and events are true to life, that’s about where the historical accuracy ends. The film is loaded with overthe- top and highly fantasised acrobatics of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon proportions; certain scenes see Goemon vaulting himself hundreds of metres into the air, dispatching hundreds of opponents on his own, and the use of many highly mechanised contraptions that betray the fi lm’s setting.
A number of fi ctional subplots have also been incorporated into this reimagining, many of which involve otherwise unrelated characters from Japanese folk legend. A love interest develops between Goemon and another historical Japanese fi gure, and an adversarial subplot emerges between Goemon and Kirigakure Saizo, one of the most popular legendary (read: fi ctional) ninjas from the Sengoku period of Japan. The combination of historical infl uence with creative liberties ensures that it all comes together with that magical blend of storytelling that the Japanese do so well. Goemon is peppered – in true Japanese style – with some rather bizarre comedic relief. If you can overlook this, don’t mind a subtitled fi lm and don’t take it too seriously, you’re in for a magical story and an action-packed romp.