It doesn't take long to be thrown head first into the detailed history of Sengoku Basara. Opening with an extended introduction - incredibly extended, and detailed, and informative - we are thrown into the world of feudal Japan, with numerous fighting Warlords, all wanting supreme, unmitigated dominance over the others and claiming sole control of the land of the rising sun.
The intro is detailed, and it needs to be for those who are unfamiliar with the two seasons of the anime (or, indeed, the video games that it is based upon courtesy of Capcom) that feeds into the show. Such as myself. I'm sure for anyone already familiar with the situations, characters and drama of the series, the introduction played as a test in tedium. For those new to the world however it was an absolute necessary evil. That being said, the sheer length of the intro, coupled with the plethora of information that is machine gunned at you, can make the prologue feel a bit heavy and, to a degree, acts as movie buffering filler.
The rest of the movie struggles with the numerous characters we are meant to build a relationship with, which is where the pre-knowledge of the series would truly benefit. The story is constantly jumping between characters, giving us barely enough time to truly understand or know of their motives and personalities without the aide of someone (or even the character themselves) simply proclaiming their intent or, as is the case with the majority of the main players, being so transparently one dimensional to the point that there is no subtlety to the intentions or character.
The slim story allows the movie to move from one set piece to another, giving us cause to jump between the underdeveloped characters as we witness the true essence of the movie: the fight scenes. In truth, the story seems superfluous to the action, existing as an excuse to simply carry us from one amazing fight to another. What this movie lacks in narrative depth and substance, it more than makes up for with beautifully realised and wonderfully ridiculous OTT action of samurais and warriors battling one another in the air, on the ground or, as with the final act, against demon and shadow tendril...things.
If you are a fan of the show I am sure there is a more satisfying pathos to be had with the culmination that this movie supposedly provides. If you are looking for a straight cinematic experience, one that provides a full and complete narrative in and of itself, then this isn't the right movie for you. IF however you're just wanting a movie that allows you to witness out of this world anime action at its finest, anchored within a somewhat well realised feudal Japan - then don't hesitate to put this into your disc drive. Just don't say I didn't warn you if, by the end of the movie, it leaves you feeling slightly empty and dissatisfied because of its lack of narrative depth and characterisation.
★★★☆☆ (for fans) / ★★☆☆☆ (for new comers)
Steve Russell // @stevetendo
Sengoku Basara: The Last Party is available now