Der Samurai

| June 9, 2015

Living up to its distributors namesake, Till Klienhart’s Der Samurai, from Artsploitation Films, is part art house, part slasher film that manages to entrance with its nightmarish imagery, but doesn’t make it compelling enough to withstand the test of time. The film centers around Jakob (Michel Diercks), a young police officer in a small town, whose looked down upon by all of the villagers and his commanding officer. After finding a random package enclosed to him, he meets a cross-dressing stranger at the edge of town, who opens the package and unleashes its contents, a katana blade. The stranger grabs the weapon and begins to terrorize the town and its up to Jakob to try and stop him, along with finding out how the two of them are interconnected.

Klienhart’s first feature film is pretty obtuse for most of its running time, which is only a mere 79 minutes. While there’s an incredible shot towards the end of the film, that pays off for most of the investment, its still a strange film that resonates only some of the time. Diercks performance as Jakob is really well done and plays the cop very much like a meek novice, which is also furthered with his boyish appearance. Pit Bukowski, who plays the titular stranger, shows both a tenacity and tenderness, as he both terrorizes the town and gets close to Jakob. Its easy to spot that the cross-dressing samurai represents Jakob’s repressed desires, that would typically go against the grain of the straight forward mindset of the small town. This is also represented well in a scene where Bukowski describes if the two of them had met in a club and how everyone would perceive them. Klienhart’s writing and directing skills are solid, but his first outing never fully reaches the potential that it could have. There’s tons of hard work and effort on display, but with the films gruesome imagery and awkward situations only delivering on half of what’s there or never really amount to anything that resonate beyond primal urges.

The Blu-Ray disc from Artsploitation Films is presented extremely well, with some great video, incredible audio and some minor special features that round out the disc nicely. The video presented in a AVC encoded, 1080p HD transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film’s video is presented in a nice HD transfer, that presents its grim imagery really well. There are plenty of portions that are shot in very low light areas, where there’s some digital noise, but other than that, the films looks great in HD. The audio is presented in two German language tracks, a 5.1 DTS Master Audio track and a Dolby 5.1 surround track. Both mixes work in the right places, with the DTS-HD track offering a bit more robust sound. The quick scares, music cues and even soft moments sound really well mixed and balanced. The features on the disc include a commentary with Klienert and Producer Linus de Paoli, a short behind the scenes featurette and a theatrical trailer for the film. While the behind the scenes segment is brief, it offers some marvelous insight into some of the more technical aspects of the film, that showcase how they used VFX to enhance some of the scenes.

Der Samurai is a solid work of genre filmmaking, with some crazy visuals and gore galore. Director Till Klienhert doesn’t offer solid answers connections with everything that he presents in the film, but shows enough promise to give this film a viewing and entices with the possibilities of what he can do next. Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
Filed in: Horror
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