Inspired by a real-life race that is still held annually in Japan, Samurai Marathon is an epic sword slasher from the team behind 13 Assassins and The Last Emperor. In the late feudal era of Japan, a young ninja (Satoh) is operating undercover in the court of an aging Lord during a peaceful era of Japan that is on the brink of change. After the Lord challenges his lazy samurais to a punishing marathon to toughen them up, the ninja finds his loyalties put to the test. Facing impossible odds, this unusual band of characters is running a race to win or die.
Lets start by saying this isn't your usual hack n slash feature that will paint the screen in Takashi Miike style at every turn, this is a more constrained and thoughtful experience that will take you on a journey and then, yes its a samurai film, so will finish with a flurry of blades.
The film follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a clan of samurai and wannabes that consist of a Family man, A young boy, a princess, a ninja, an old samurai and a traitor. All of which run the marathon to win their clans leaders prize of anything they wish. Set in the era of Japan being visited by foreigners who bear gifts of liqueur and guns this adds to the story and a simple task set by the clan leader becomes more like a game of life of death.
The film ends with the line 'The race held by Annaka clan in 1885 was the origin of the Japanese Marathon' and this is the story that sets this up. Like with most journeys this film is more to do with how the person get there rather than who actual wins and if your to take this journey through the story of the Samurai Marathon then your reward will be an enjoyable tale.