Shortfilm Review: HUNT FOR HIROSHI (2016)

Spend enough time on social media browsing posts about ninjas and movies and you're bound to come across posts regarding... well, ninja movies. It's a subgenre that still generates fervor among martial arts fans today, and even enough to garner interest in aspiring film professionals these days.

Moreover, it's a fact that now leaves us with the stylings of filmmaker Sam Gosper representing Australia with his Circle Of Ninja film series beginning with his newest shortfilm debut, Hunt For Hiroshi. Actor Abe Taki kicks off this latest introduction to Gosper's vision as the title villain - a former ninja himself whose ascention into crime boss status makes him the prime target of former clan and brother-in-arms, Hisashi (David Vuong). With Hiroshi hiding in recluse and Hisashi closing in, all that stands between Hisashi and his target is Dale (Laurent Boiteux), the relentless tactical unit leader in Hiroshi's employ whose job will ultimately push him to his very limit.

Gosper does an ample job in all of thirty-four minutes setting the tone just right with the first ten minutes giving us everything we need to keep looking. His gorilla-style approach cuts a few corners here and there but they're nothing worth being too concerned over, and he aptly makes up for whatever shortcomings there might be with great moments of drama and cinematography that deepen the scope of something that could have been way more claustrophobic.

Most of the acting is solid with the great scripting by Gosper and writer Jono Kong. Abe's and Boutieux's performances are the strongest in terms of drama with Abe observing a slow-burning brew of intensity to accommodate the ruthlessness and complexity his character. Vuong and Boiteux get to chew up some dramatic scenery of their own well while Gosper keeps things purposeful in both dialogue and quality screenfighting, scoring and sound design to enhance the spectacle, but it's Vuong himself who commands the screen overall, giving fanboys a worthy enigmatic contender in ninja cinema.

Hunt For Hiroshi is just the palate cleanser you need if you love action and martial arts cinema. In its current state, it adds to the list of many of today's independent projects that manage to present themselves nearly way better than a lot of what Hollywood has been used to producing, and with an approach that clearly shows that its director is definitely doing his homework.

On that end, you may just be getting to know Sam Gosper, but he's as new as Isaac Florentine, Eric Jacobus and Steve Wang were before films like Undisputed 2 and 3, Contour or Guyver: Dark Hero and Drive had us pining for more. Rest assured, if you have any worries or concerns of what a Sam Gosper action franchise could look like, take comfort in the knowledge that he's off to great start, and with the right support from the right people, this 'Circle' could stand to see its completion. It should, and hopefully it will.

Follow  Hunt For Hiroshi on Facebook with links to its official website for more details and info.


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