Nopporn Watin's Yamada Way of the Samurai, while offering a series of spectacular Thai boxing action sequences, is actually based in real events that happened in Siam (nowadays, Thailand) during the 17th century.
A young Japanese Samurai warrior, Yamada Nagamasa (Seigi Ozeki), has a painful secret in his heart, the secret being that the bandits terrorizing the kingdom are, in fact, fellow Japanese, an elite force of Samurais. Betrayed and left half dead by them, he manages to flee, seeking refuge in a remote village, where he recovers and decides that his heart is where the land will cover his face when he dies, and that land is Siam under King Naresuan.
As he knows that his former comrades will seek him to silence him for ever, he masters the art of Muay Boran, or Thai boxing, a devastating martial art form that uses eight weapons: two arms, two legs, to elbows and two knees. Yamada, after joining the fearless elite force of King Naresuan's body guards, confronts his former comrades, and wins the fight. Knowing he cannot return to Japan, his wishes are granted and dies in Siam after a long life.
Whilst Yamada Way of the Samurai is based on historical events, they are in fact used as a vehicle to show the spectacular Thai boxing fights, which are excellently rendered, with a camera that moves from long view to close ups with the same precision as the boxers have. Whilst the film was beautifully shot in the Thai landscape, the story itself is too shallow to have much credibility, both the dialogue and the scenes becoming too repetitive in parts, which exasperated me to no end (I almost fell asleep), and as I wasn't expecting too much in the acting front from these excellent Thai boxers, I wasn't that disappointed by it.
In short, Yamada Way of the Samurai is a film for the martial arts fans, they will not be disappointed with the fight sequences.
Before I forget, I must add that the little girl was simply adorable!
Yamada Way of the Samurai is out on DVD and Blu-ray for sale in Britain in a special collector's edition, distributed by Cine Asia.
Special features in the disc:
Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo
Audio commentary by Bey Logan
Cine-Asia documentary “Masters of the Ring”