Directed by Sam Gosper Starring Taki Abe, David Vuong, Laurent Boiteux, Joseph Carbone, Moustafa Dennawi Short Film Review by Evie Brudenall
Masterminded by filmmaker to watch Sam Gosper, Hunt for Hiroshi is a piece focusing on the escapades of a justice-seeking Ninja. Albeit not your typical fodder for an indie short, Gosper’s creation is in no way restricted by its running time and is one of the most impressive spectacle shorts you will ever see.
Hiroshi, a ruthless and exacting Yazuka crime-lord, is being stealthily hunted by Hisashi, his former mentor who is equally as driven in his goals. After turning an infamous ninja clan into a modern day organisation that monopolises the city, Hiroshi finds himself well and truly in Hisashi’s bad books and must have his men take down Hisashi before he reaches him.
A simple premise of a man seeking revenge and justice is enhanced exponentially by the plethora of Gosper’s artistic flourishes, particularly his outstanding gift to direct an arresting and high-octane action fight sequence. Tightly choreographed and brutally visceral, the fight sequences you’ll see here in Hunt for Hiroshi are as good as any you’d lay eyes on in a Hollywood blockbuster – if not better. The use of long takes capture and cultivate a vital sense of peril and immediacy, a style reminiscent of the recent but acclaimed action franchise John Wick (a similarly themed straight-forward tale of revenge) that capitalises on the gloriously bloody in a minimally edited fashion. Every cut feels motivated and thoughtfully placed as not to hamper the rapid flow of the action but to keep audiences engaged and entertained as they survey the infusion of hand-to-hand combat and use of firearms. The two worlds collide and reach a pulse-racing velocity, refusing to let us take a breath. Gosper crafts the film’s action with an abundance of punch and poise, so much so you could watch the sequences on continuous loops and be left in awe every singly time.
From the opening shot of a lethal-looking blade dripping in crimson blood, there is a strong indication that this sentiment will pervade the rest of the picture, which is confirmed just mere minutes later. Blood is plentifully shed and the gore and violence is rife to degrees that Hollywood heavyweights Quentin Tarantino and Mel Gibson would be proud of. Like these filmmakers, Gosper is magnificently cinematic in his approach but acutely recognises his adopted action genre. The camera swoops over the lavish and dazzling city, flash fast cars pursue Hisashi in a thrilling chase sequence that sees Hisashi plunge himself into oncoming traffic and cling onto the roof of a car to evade capture and certain death whilst a helicopter hovers threateningly over the city. Hunt for Hiroshi is more satisfying than the majority of action flicks produced by Tinseltown nowadays and is a must-see for any friend of the genre.
Whilst you marvel at the stunning cinematography the film has to offer, Hunt for Hiroshi also wants the audience to ponder and ask questions, ultimately achieving their goal with a tried-and-tested formula of the pronoun game to keep Hisashi a figure of relative obscurity. On the phone to an associate, Hiroshi tantalisingly summarises, “I remember the day he gave it to me” as he delicately handles the blood-drenched sword. Excelling in every other department, it’s the dialogue that feels the least polished and professional as the script often speaks in contrived riddles and offers audiences no apparent solution. However, a title card at the short’s culmination reads, “To be continued”, encouraging us to hold onto our questions – they will soon be answered and the two equally powerful foes will eventually come into direct conflict with one another. We hope.
Left with the need for more of Sam Gosper’s genius, Hunt for Hiroshi whets our appetite for a possible extended universe dense with spectacular action and sumptuous visuals. Independent filmmaking has never been so grand or ambitious.