Directed by Till Kleinert
A wolf strives through the woods around an isolated German village. Jakob the young local police officer is onto him, but scents something more in the darkness. What he finds is a man, it seems, wild eyed, of wiry build, in a dress. He carries a katana, a Samurai sword. When the Samurai invites Jakob to follow him on his crusade towards the village, it becomes Jakob's mission to pursue the lunatic to end this wanton destruction. At the end of the night Jakob has experienced too much, is too far from whom he once was. Something hidden has been unleashed to meet the first rays of daylight.
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★★★★★ review by nathaxnne walker (undead) on Letterboxd
John Hughes didn't make movies for teenage me, but if he did, they still wouldn't hold a candle to Till Kleinert's The Samurai. Smudging together slashers, werewolf tropes, ronin flicks and postpunk alienation into a heedlessly, headlessly, sparking neon orangery fulminating cauldron of Desire and Becoming fully off the chains of domesticity, coming out and coming together in feral emergency. This movie rules, and is ruled by none.
★★★★ review by Dave Jackson on Letterboxd
Part horror, part homoerotic character study, part god-knows-what, Till Kleinert's Der Samurai is almost indefinable. Shot with ethereal elegance and featuring a hypnotic score, this is a strange experience, and one I enjoyed thoroughly. Its cross-dressing antagonist (his unstoppable power reminiscent of The Hitcher) is inspired, and Pit Bukowski, erect member and all, gives a ridiculously brave performance. Though it has moments of gore and a few unsettling moments, its refusal to adhere to any kind of genre conventions will likely upset some less open horror fans. But those with an appetite for something different will get a huge kick out of this.
★★★★ review by CJ on Letterboxd
I feel almost like Der Samurai is still too fresh in my mind for me to adequately review it. Thoughts are still pinging all around my brain about it. The "plot" is about a shy policeman in some nowhere German village whose peace is threatened by the arrival of a cross-dressing maniac with a samurai sword, intent on rampage. It's all allegorical and, at times, the metaphor (for coming out) is a little over-obvious. I cut it some slack because it's a young director's first feature and it's less about what he has to say and more about the bold, original voice with which he says it but still, the further I get from it, the more I realise how coherently presented the themes are. There are moments of tremendous beauty in the film (helped by stunning photography/lighting and a haunting Badalamenti style score) that mix with shocking violence. Kleinert's Japanese influence (notably Miike) is evident but there's something perversely lovely about tranposing that to rural Germany. The film has a sense of place, a pair of cracking, uninhibited lead performances and it all really sticks in your mind. An eerie, unsettling experience that's moving and unique. I can't wait to see what Till Kleinert does next. It feels like this - as excellent as it is - might be a test run for something bigger and better.
★★★½ review by Tasha Robinson on Letterboxd
One of those only-at-a-film-festival experiences; I can't see this ever getting wide American release, given its wild experimental luridness and frank male sexuality. A policeman confronts a sword-wielding, dress-wearing wild man who runs roughshod over a small town; the attacker, credited only as "the samurai," seems more like something out of a nightmare than like a real person. Possibly he represents the cop's secret sexuality, possibly he's a werewolf, possibly he's just a representation of id, and regardless, he's intimidating and fascinating, largely thanks to Pit Bukowski's intense performance, which makes him believable as something otherworldly. Reminiscent of The Company Of Wolves and even more so, The Passion Of Darkly Noon in its gushy, violent delirium.
★★★½ review by Cliff on Letterboxd
A striking, original and unique horror-thriller with a dark fantasy edge, in which Jakob, a uniformed policeman who essentially looks after a small town single-handedly, is trying to track down a wolf that's causing problems for the area. But instead of an animal, the "lone wolf" who appears to him is a man; specifically a cross-dressing gay man with a samurai sword and a personality disorder. As the night goes on, this nightdress-wearing psycho intensifies his spree of mayhem, escalating into mass murder but all the while trying to seduce the single and lonely (but as far as we're aware, straight) cop. It's a slow-paced film, allowing the numerous beautifully-lit and carefully-composed compositions to penetrate the viewer's eyes, to the extent that the strange storyline is almost a distraction from the deep, warm visuals. Cinematographer Martin Hanslmayr is definitely one to watch, though I'm not entirely convinced that director Till Kleinert has quite mastered the transition from short films to feature-length just yet. However, he does use his Brandenburg locations well; one confrontation on a canal lock is particularly stunning.
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