Friday, 9 February 2018

Hunted Season 3 Finale

After five long weeks, we have reached the finale of season 3 of Hunted.  With only three days left, will any of the remaining four fugitives win the show?

Last episode ended with Joe and Dan live-streaming a gig in a pub on Facebook, as a way of provoking the Hunters.  The provocation works and the Hunters send a ground team to catch the pair.  however, by the time, the Hunters reach the pub, Joe and Dan have a long gone.  The Hunters try bribing the patrons of the pub to give up information, but the patrons take the piss instead.

The next we see of Joe and Dan, they're in Burton Flemying, North Yorkshire and they have received a USB stick, which gives them information about their extraction point.  They plug it in at an internet cafe and discover their extraction point is a boat on the Greenway Quay, along the River Dart in South Devon.  They also find out that using the USB stick has automatically alerted the Hunters to their location, but not the location of the extraction point.

Joe and Dan then meet a contact who lets them borrow his car.  However, first, Joe and Dan walk around Yorkshire, carrying their bike helmets to make the Hunters think they're travelling by bike.

Unfortunately, the Hunters suspect this is a ruse, because of how Joe is wearing the most Yorkshire thing ever, a flat-cap.  But the ruse works long enough for Joe and Dan to drive within 40 miles of South Devon, where they commit to cycling the rest of the way.  From there, we next see them in Chudleigh, Devon and they actually cycle past Bob, but they wisely decide not to make contact.

Now onto Bob Ayling.  He originally began this process with his son Alex, whom we'll come to soon, but the pair split up to double their chances.

However, without Alex, Bob has become utterly lost.  We see his morale drop and he becomes exhausted.  yet he is still dedicated to his son.  Bob regularly admits his failings as a father and he wants nothing more to atone for them now.  This made me root for him.  He's a favourite of mine to win.

We see Bob is in Chiddingstone, kent.  When he receives the USB stick, he goes to the town hall to access it.  When he realises he needs to scarpers, one of the town clerks agrees to drive him to a contact who can help further.  The Hunters quickly discover Bob's location and send a team there, but the town hall staff do little to help them.

So instead, they begin tracking mobile phone activity in the area and they quickly identify the phone of a Sue Hewlett - the same Sue Hewlett who has just dropped Ben off with her contact.

The Hunters contact Sue and when it emerges she won't help them, the Hunters then begin playing dirty.  They tell her that Bob made up a story about Alex, as a way of gaining sympathy, so that he can win the show and use the prize money for pay for his divorce.  This tactic caused online outrage, and while I agree, it was below-the-belt, this was only because we've grown to love Bob so much.  We know he is a decent, hard-working man.  If Bob was a criminal, we wouldn't be so forgiving.

Anyway, Sue unfortunately believes the Hunters and tells that Bob is now on the edge of East Sussex.  The Hunters again start tracking mobile phones in the area and quickly identify the phone of the man who is helping Bob.  At the same time, they launch a social media campaign, appealing to the public for information.  This works and Bob begins to get ratted out, helping the Hunters to pinpoint his location.

We next see Bob in Chudleigh, Devon, only a day away from winning.  However, he is becoming lost and frustrated, as well as being caught on multiple CCTV cameras.  To make matters worse, he then suffers from a knee injury and decides to pitch camp for the night in a field.

Believing they're close, the Hunters send up a drone with a thermal imaging sensor, which quickly picks up a heat signature.  The Hunters go to investigate, but it turns out to be a Farmhand.  Then it begins raining and the Drone has to be taken down.  I have been glad to see that good old British rain.

Finally, we come to Alex, who has captured the hearts of the nation, due to his courage, earnestness and general likeability.  Having been diagnosed with Aspergers at a young age, he has always had low self-confidence and has entered the process to prove something.  And that is why Alex is my favourite to win.

We find out that Alex is in Reigate, Surrey and he asks in an office to access the USB stick.  once he discovers the location, he plans his getaway by bravely asking for help from the public.  A strange woman agrees saying that she'll help as long as Alex doesn't have a bomb in his bomb.  In typical Alex honesty, he replies "I don't have a bomb.  Only 9 days' worth of clothes, rice crispie bars and an unopen bag of sweets."

Alex is driven to safety, but not before he throws the details of the extraction point down a drain, proudly proclaiming that the Hunters will never find them there.  A crucial mistake at this point in the process.  Especially since the Hunters know Alex's location and see him on CCTV doing just that.  They send a team to the drain to fish out the details, but it emerges that this was an all elaborate hoax, set by Alex.  It was all a ruse to buy him time to escape.  It fooled the Hunters and it definitely fooled me.  I'm sorry Alex, I should have never doubted you. 

To think this was the same Alex who only a few weeks ago, in a phone call to his mum, told her his exact location and how to get there.  He's come a long way and all credit to him.  This was a good plan.  After Alex leaves his first contact, he befriends a woman named Nadine who agrees to take him to Torquay.  And we see him beginning to recognise his own self-worth.  He proudly proclaims "that the women love me and he loves the women," which was the cutest thing ever.

From here, we jump to 7 hours to the extraction time.  After having seen Joe and Dan on CCTV in Devon, where Bob is, the Hunters conclude the extraction point is in Devon.  When they begin analysing the fugitives' movements, they realise that they're all heading south.  The Hunters realise that the River Dart is a natural extraction point, but with twenty-five jetties, they have no choice to search them all.

With all of the fugitives within spitting distance, Bob is the closest.  We jump to 30 mins to the extraction time and I admit, that I was feeling the tension.  I was screaming at my laptop, praying that nobody would be caught.  Bob has a bad night in his tent, but his resolve to win is as strong as ever.  He begins marching through the woods to the Greenway Quay, but then the Hunters send a chopper up, stopping Bob in his tracks.  Thankfully, it rains again, and Bob remains undetected.  With 15 mins to the extraction time, he starts running.

Meanwhile, Alex is also being driven to the extraction point by Nadine.  He's driven, as close as possible, before he begins running.  While running, he and Bob reunite.  While this was a heart-warming, tear-jerking reunion, I was screaming at my laptop, as I was so scared that they would be caught here.

But luckily, they begin running again, but unluckily, the chopper spots them and the Hunters send all of their ground teams to Greenway Quay.  However, the Hunters screw up by going to the wrong side of the river, which is what happened last year, strangely enough.  This mistake is enough time for Alex and Bob to successfully reach the extraction point.  I'm so glad that the two of them won.  They are a lovely pair and they definitely deserve it.

But it's not over yet.  Joe and Dan are also on their way to the observation point, closely pursued by the only ground team who didn't screw up.  Meanwhile, the Hunters on the wrong bank are trying to commander a boat to the other side.  Joe and Dan reach the quay and board the boat, narrowly missing the Hunters. 

Four fugitives take home a share of £100,00 and Bob proudly announces by winning this show, Alex was proven all of his bullies and doubters wrong, which he definitely has.  But all credit to Bob too.  There were moments where I thought he was going to give up, but he stuck in there and all credit to him too.

Congrats to Joe and Dan as well.  Although I don't feel that the series focussed on them, as much, as it could have done, the two also deserved to win.  Live-streaming on Facebook was a risky move, but it paid off, and left the Hunters with a lot of egg on their faces.  Talking of egg on faces, 4 fugitives escaped the Hunters this year, with one of two of them being complete underdogs.

It is interesting how the fugitives you expect to win crush out early.  In season 1, I thought Ricy Allen was a surefire winner, before he gave up.  In S2, two ex-soldiers, Kirk Bowett and Jez Scarrett, were caught after becoming complacent.  And this season, ex-copper, Jamie Clark, was caught after taking one risk too many.  But then this allowed underdogs Nick Cummings and Alex Ayling to win, so I can't complain really.

With season 4 of Hunted being broadcast later this year, we will soon go through this process all over again.  While I doubt my little blog is big enough for the Hunters to care about, don't tell me your plan in the comments.  You never know who's reading.

Hunted Season 3 Episode 5 Recap

There are five fugitives left who need to escape capture for another 6 days.  Will any of them be able to evade the Hunters?

Last episode ended on Majid, the Deputy Mayor of Sheffield, being pursued by the Hunters after a bolshy return to Sheffield.  Being driven by an accomplice, he desperately tries to escape into the Peak District.  However, his getaway driver takes a wrong turn and Majid makes a break for it, running through the countryside.  But it doesn't take long before the Hunters catch him.

From here we go to father and son team, Bob and Alex Ayling.  Last episode, after 18 days on the run, the two decided to split up, to double their chances.  Bob is still in his home county of Kent and is clearly suffering from the stress of being on the run.  His poor physical condition is only exemplified from his lack of sleep and food.  We begin to see a defeated man.

But we also a man utterly dedicated to his son.  He wants nothing more than for Alex to win the show, even if he doesn't.

Hiding in Pluckley, Kent, Bob begins to make mistakes, such as walking in full view of a CCTV camera, which strangely isn't even mentioned by the Hunters.  Becoming intensely paranoid, he hitches a lift with a delivery driver who offers to drive him to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in a couple of days.

Yet Bob's paranoia grows so much that eh calls the delivery driver on a burner phone to see if he can get an earlier lift to safety.  But he runs out of luck.  And to make matters worse, the Hunters have tracked the call, showing that even burner phones aren't safe.  They then decide to target the delivery driver who helped him, who reveals everything, including, most notably, that Alex and Bob have separated.

Although Bob remains uncaught, I'm unsure whether he'll make the full 25 days.  He may give up long before then.

Now we move onto his son, Alex.  At 2 years old, Alex was diagnosed with Asperger's, which has left him shy, awkward and insular.  In Sandhurst, Kent, he becomes badly lost, as he tries to navigate his way to Hastings to meet his mother, Lynne.

The Hunters also identify their close relationship and decide to focus their efforts onto Lynne.  While they question her in the Hunter HQ, a covert team installs cameras in and around her home.  Later, the cameras spot a seemingly strange woman leaving Lynne's home and entering a seemingly strange car.

The audience discovers that this is Lynne in disguise who is able to rendeyvous with Alex and give him supplies and a much-needed confidence boost.

Meanwhile, the Hunters have identified that the car belongs to one of Lynne's friends, Tracy Gough.  The Hunters interview her and halfway through, bizarrely, her husband talks about a previously unknown sim card.  I initially wondered whether this was a trap of some kind, but I'm wondering whether this was just a monumental cock-up.

Alex is still in Kent and he bravely asks help from a stranger who puts him up for the night.  Alex is overjoyed that he had the confidence to do this and I was too.  He speaks openly about how he was bullied, because of his Asperger's, and so it was great to see him develop like this.

Lastly, we came to best friends, milk men and singers, Joe and Dan, who hitherto haven't been on anybody's radar, least of all the Hunters'.  The show hasn't been focussing much on them, so it was a surprise to learn they were hiding in North Wales.

But having become increasingly homesick, they decide to return home to Preston, Lancashire.  Suspecting this could happen, the Hunters interview Dan's wife and install spyware on his computer.  While doing so, they discover Dan has pre-recorded 25 bedtime story videos for his kids.  Deciding to exploit this, the Hunters make a crude parody in order to provoke Dan and Joke into making a mistake.

Meanwhile, Joe and Dan are being harboured by their friend in the Eaves Pub.  They see the Hunters' video and immediately begin plotting revenge.

They decide to perform a gig within the Eaves' pub and live-stream it on Facebook.  They dedicate one song to the leader of the Hunters and rewrite the lyrics to mock them.  And when they Hunters go to investigate, the pair plan to be long gone.  This is a foolhardy move, which could prove to be their downfall.

When the Hunters see this, they're in disbelief at the recklessness and send a ground team to the pub.  The episode ends with the team only being 200 metres away.  Will Joe and Dan be caught? We need to wait until next week to find out.

Top tips for going on the run:

1. Don't use burner phones.  Anything with an electrical signal can be tracked.

2. Don't give up.  You'll make silly mistakes, which could cost you dearly.

3. Don't become provoked by the Hunters.  Joe and Dan could soon be out of the game.

The Gold Rush Review

Number 129 on the top 1000 films of all time is Charlie Chaplin's the Gold Rush.

Set during the great Gold Rush of the late 19th century, Charlie Chaplin plays a lone prospector who travels to Alaska in the hopes of making his fortune.  Once there, he encounters bears, criminals and love.

As is appropriate for a Chaplin film, the Gold Rush is definitely funny in parts, for example, with the Lone Prospector being unknowingly followed by a bear or the famous Bread Roll dance.  I was also impressed with the ingenuity that Chaplin showed.  As well as starring within the Gold Rush, he also wrote, produced and directed it.  He only uses a handful of sets, for example, the first part of the film is set in a cabin, but it remains interesting.  Rather than being limited by this, Chaplin uses it to its fullest potential.

But beyond the comedy, the heart of the film lies in the love story between the Lone Prospector and the showgirl, Georgia.  Chaplin always includes these love plots and they're generally what I like most about his films.  The love plots are always endearing and touching to watch.  This love plot was no exception.  It was the classic story of boy meets girl, but girl is interested in other boy, and then first boy has to fight to win her heart.  This is what the Lone Prospector experiences and it was heart-warming to watch.

Chaplin said that the Gold Rush was the film he most wants to be remembered for.  While it was a good watch, I think this honour should go to the Great Dictator.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Hunted Episode 4 Recap

With 6 fugitives still on the run and 13 days left, will any of them evade the Hunters and win?

Last episode ended with former police officer and family man, Jamie Clark, narrowly escaping the Hunters after he risked everything to see his wife.  We pick back up to see that the Hunters are pursuing him along country roads in Dorset.  While Jamie is fleeing, a herd of cows flood onto the road and he has to ditch his vehicle.

He runs into the woods pursued by the Hunters and leads them on a merry chase through a stream and thick undergrowth.  He tries to hide, but is caught eventually.  Arguably the show's strongest contestant has been caught.  Although thinking about it, in the past, the strongest contestants have never down that well.  In series 1, frontrunner Ricky Allen gave up halfway through and in series 2, former soldiers Kirk Bowett and Jez Scarratt were the first fugitives to be caught.

With Joe and Dan making a very brief appearance in the Lake District, we then move onto father and son team, Bob and Alex Ayling.  For me, they're quickly becoming hot favourites.  Alex has Asperger's and resultingly has low self-confidence: the complete opposite of his outgoing father.  However, Bob is devoted to his son and wants to do everything he can to help him.

But after 12 days on the run, their supplies and morale are running low and the Aylings know they need to make contact with the outside world.  With Bob being a Freemason, he decides to make use of his Freemason connections, by contacting his associate Kevin Kemp - a pub landlord.  However, the Hunters also determine this will be the Aylings' next stop and send a team to interview Kevin. 

The Aylings make their way to Kevin's pub, where Bob decides to scope out first, before sending Alex in.  The Hunters have long gone, but Kevin reveals that they were snooping around earlier, so instead the Aylings decide to hole up with another Freemason. 

The Aylings are able to have two secure days here, but being only 25 miles away from home, they become to sorely homesick.  As a morale booster, they decide they'll risk everything to try to touch home to see, wife and mother, Lynne Ayling.

But the Hunters have a similar idea.  They're getting nowhere with the Freemason, so they decide to refocus their efforts on Lynne Ayling.  They send a team to interview her and quickly determine that she is lying through her teeth.  They also determine that Freemason associate, Graham Skelting, is connected to it all.  They begin tracking his car through ANPR.

Meanwhile, Alex is becoming paranoid and he suggests that he and Bob split up to double their chances.  Bob agrees and on day 16, Kevin drives Alex to safety, while Bob prepares his own escape route.  However, the Hunters are just around the corner and Bob escapes through the skin of his teeth.  Graham leaves them a taunting message, before we move onto the final fugitive of this episode: Majid Mah.

Majid Mah is the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sheffield and is also an extrovert that loves to stir up trouble.  It's revealed that he is hiding in Manchester, gaining supplies, and is planning on escaping, but first he taunts the Hunters, through mocking tweets. 

The Hunters interrogate one of Majid's closest friends and associates, Helen Milner and Milton Pennyfeather, while Majid returns to his hometown of Sheffield and stays with his associates in the Green Party.  The Hunters note that there is a Green Party conference in town and they suspect with Majid's cheeky personality will make an appearance there.

They send a ground team to survey the conference, but it's revealed that Majid decided it was too risky to go to the conference.  However, the Hunters identify one of Majid's potential associates, Helen Milner, as well as her house and car.  The only problem? This is the associate Majid is staying with.  They send a team to Helen's house and carry out surveillance.

On Day 19, Milton informs Majid via the phone that the Hunters are hiding and he drives Majid to safety.  However, the Hunters track the phone call and are still tracking the car. 

They unleash everything they have to catch Majid who is heading for the Peak District.  They stop at a pub to gain their bearings, while the Hunters get a fleeting glimpse of them.  The episode ends with the Hunters spotting them on the road.  Will Majid be caught? We'll have to wait until next week to find out.

Top tips for going on the run:

1.  Don't visit home.  This is what caught out Jamie Clark.

2. Don't become overconfident.  This could be Majid's downfall.

3. Be wary of burner phones.  Even just using them once could be enough for the Hunters to track you down.

Downfall Review

Number 127 on top 1000 films of all time is the German WW2 film: Downfall.

Set in Nazi Germany, Downfall explores the last ten days of Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) and other prominent Nazis.

As a Western viewer, it's always interesting to see WW2 films that are set on the side of the Germans.  With Das Boot as an example, these films don't see to either romanticise or vilify the Germans, but rather objectively portray the war from their perspective.

Downfall also succeeds in this.  With the Russians closing in from the East and the Allies from the West, Nazi Berlin will surely fall.  Here we see the Nazi government, once so united, begin to implode.  Paranoia starts to circulate and tensions rise.  Some Nazis like Himmler give up and seek to escape Berlin.  But others like Goebbels and Hitler himself refuse to surrender, even if that means losing everything.

Although Downfall portrayed Hitler at his most abhorrent, with him enacting a scorched-earth policy to punish the German people, whom he thinks have failed him, it also portrays him as completely human.  Yes, Hitler is undoubtedly evil, but what Downfall does is complicate this.  We see a man clinging desperately onto a dying ideology.  The cracks in his facade appear, as he struggles to accept his reality.  this is down to Bruno Ganz' excellent performance.  He portrayed Hitler, as a multi-layered man.

As well as complicating Hitler, Downfall also complicates his Nazi leaders.  Again, while they're definitely not romanticised, they are portrayed with shades of grey.  While Hitler spits in the face of compassion, officials like Albert Speer plead for him to spare the German people.  Although this isn't universal, some of them are as ruthless as Hitler, executing anybody who runs away.  Other Nazis lynch innocent Germans to serve as a warning for the approaching Russians.

Downfall also explores themes of complicity and ignorance through characters like Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary.  The film is bookended with the real Traudl Junge explaining the guilt she feels for not doing enough to realise the truth of what was happening.

Interlinked with the main narrative are two subplots, one of a Nazi doctor who refuses to abandon his patients and another of a Hitler Youth, seeking to return to his family.  Both of these subplots helped to ground the main action and added a more human touch to the film.

Although it wasn't a Holocaust film as such, Downfall definitely had its disturbing parts to it.  Most notably, are the scenes where Hitler and Eva Braun discuss different suicide methods and Magda Goebbels poisoning her children.  There were also large party scenes, as some of the Nazis refused to face reality.  These different responses to grief also helped to nuance the film.

Downfall was an interesting film, which helped to colour in some very black and white characters.  It was challenging watch, but a necessary one all the same.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Hunted Episode 3 Recap

Nine days in and there are still seven fugitives at large.  This episode features all of the fugitives except for Majid whose whereabouts remain unknown.

Firstly, let's pick up from on old university friends and self-confessed city girls: Sandra and Mella.

Last episode saw them trying to hitchhike their way from Edinburgh to Kent.  Suspecting they may try this, the Hunters sent ont of their ghost agents to pretend to be a Good Samaritan, who'll then deliver them into the Hunters' hands.

Ghost agents are agents who remain anonynmous and can conduct surveillance, but can't complete captures.  They are a new addition for this series.

 Last episode ended on the question of whether Sandra and Mella were picked up by the ghost agent.  This question was quickly answered with a yes.  The Ghost Agent delivered them to Gretna Green Services and into the hands of the Hunters.  Sandra and Mella are out after eight days on the run.  This now means that the winner, assuming somebody will win, will be male, as Sandra and Mella were the last women standing.

From here we o to father and son team: Robert and Alex Ayling.  Alex has Asperger's and is the plar opposite of his father.  Where Alex is reserved, shy and logical, Bob is loud, brash and impulsive.  Bob wants to make up for his failings as a father, after he was initially unreceptive to Alex and his Asperger's syndrome.  This makes him very likeable for me and dare I say, a favourite to win.

Last we saw them, they were in the Peak Distict, where the Hunters still thought they were, but it\'s revealled that they've hitch-hiked their way to Hampshire.  While trekking through a forest, we see their different sides come out.  Bob messes around on a rope swing, while Alex is afraid of getting caught.  We also discover that Bob is a freemason and plans to use his freemason connections to help them around the country.  From Hampshire, they go to Bath to do just that.

However, the Hunters quickly figured out Bob's plan too and dispatch a ground team to interview Bob's fremason friend, Graham.  But the interview is really just a pretense for them to hack into Graha's computer and install spyware.  It seemingly works, although I am curious why Graham wasn' more supsicious of two Hunters snooping around his house.

Anyway, Graham receives an email, which th Hunters assume is from Bob.  The email identifies a caravan that Bob and Alex might be hiding in.  The Hunters quickly investigate only to find this is a decoy set by Alex and Bob who are now fifty miles away in the New Forest.

Now we move nto best friends, Joe and Dan, whom we've seen very little off.  The pair areboth milkmen,but moonlight as wedding and pub singers.  Their plan is to seek help forom the people who own the venues that they've performed at in the past.

The Hunters are stumped at Joe and Dan's whereabouts, so they decide to question their friends at the Hunter HQ.  They even go so far as to pay fo their train tickets, but this is a trap.  The Hunters have planted a Ghost Agent who eavesdrop on the friends' conversation and reports back tha Joe and Dan are in the Lake District, pulling odd js in exchange for food and shelter.

The Hunters quickly figure out Joe and Dan's plan and also identify their next safe harbour: the Pheasant Inn.  Meanwhile, Joe and Dan are pulling pints and serving dinner in exchange for money and sheltr.  The Hunter dend a team to investigate, but Joe and Dan are already leaving.

Lastly, we come to former police officer and family man, Jamie Clark.  he went on the run leaving his heavily pregnant wife home in Dorset, but he risks it all to see her again.  The Hunters identify through CCTV that Jamie could be in Dorset.  Meanwhile. he leaves a coded message for is wife's best friend, Sarah Clark.

However, the Hunters have aso seen Jamie on CCTV back in Manchester, and suspect he may have hitched a ride back down south.  Using License Plate Recognition, they identify a delivery firm whom might have helped him and quickly they dispatch a ground team who obtain valuable information.

Jamie goes to meet Sarah in a secluded forest who tells him that Lesley is extremely paranoid, but she'll still try to help them meet.  The Hunters suspect that Lesley will lead them to Jamie and so a ground team tracks Lesley's car.  While they lose her at traffic lights, they identify Sarah Clark as Lesley's best friend and instead go to her house.  They find Lesley's car there and determine that she has gone to meet Jamie, and quickly deduce, that they will meet in the secluded forest.  They go to catch Jamie. 

Jamie and Lesley have an emotional reunion, before Jamie realises he needs to escape.  Borrowing a vehicle from Sarah, he drives away from the forest and straight past the ground team who was sent to intercept him.  He gives them a cheeky wave, before driving off.  The chase is on but we have to wait until next week to see if they catch Jamie.

Top tips for going on the run

1. Be wary of hitch-hiking.  You never know who you can trust.

2. As agonising as it might be, do not return home.  The Hunters will be waiting.

3. Don't become over-confident.  Overconfidence leads to mistakes.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ran Review

Number 126 on the top 1000 films of all time is the historical Japanese epic: Ran.

Adapted from Shakespeare's, King Lear, Ran is set in Medieval Japan.  It tells the story of ageing emperor Hidetora Ichimonji, who in his decision to abdicate, divides his power and territory between his three sons Taro, Jiro and Saburo.  However, he soon finds that the power corrupts them, as they begin fighting each other.

I always feel guilty about criticising a film on this list.  I mean, it has to be number 126 for a reason, right? Well, I just did not get on with Ran.  My main problem was its sheer length.  At two and a half hours, the pacing was slow and there was far too much talking.  Within ten minutes, I found myself losing interest.

Ran did receive critical acclaim for its costume design, as well as being the most expensive Japanese film for the time.  Where this praise was well-deserved was its battle sequences.  While they were few and far between, the sons do battle with one another.  And I found these sequences to be the most engaging parts of the film, partially, because something was actually happening, but also because of how visceral the violence was.  I was surprised by how real it felt.

As someone who has studied King Lear, it was interesting seeing the parallels between it and Ran, such as all of the character and scene equivalents.  I enjoyed the part where Ichimonji wanders into the wasteland and succumbs to madness, only to be rescued by his jester and his loyal servant Tango.  That notwithstanding, this wasn't the film for me.  While the cast wasn't particularly large, it was difficult for me to distinguish between the characters.  But more importantly, it was just too long to sustain my interest.