Notable Cast: Hashizo Okawa, Michiko Saga, Ryunsosuke Tsukigata
One of the best things that Arrow Video and their sister label Arrow Academy has done in the last few years is that they have really dug into classic Japanese cinema for release in the west. While Criterion certainly whets the whistle with their Akira Kurosawa releases and a few other key ones (notable for this review will be the Samurai Trilogy,) Arrow has picked up the pace and delivered iconic releases for both genuine classics and those of the cult variety. The Mad Fox represents a bit of both of those worlds. Directed by Tomu Uchida, a prolific director that is finally getting more of his films beyond the previously mentioned Samurai Trilogy released here, The Mad Fox is both a gorgeous classic medieval Japanese dramatic tale and one where the fantasy elements edge it further into genre territory than expected. While the film is certainly well executed in a variety of ways, it’s also one that has a rather intriguing and often baffling script that makes it uniquely odd. For those who want to dig into Uchida’s filmography or perhaps just watch a wild cinematic experience, The Mad Fox certainly delivers for both of those groups.
It should be mentioned at this time that, while I have seen my fair share of Japanese films, the romantic and fantastical dramas of the early 60s are very much not something I am well versed in and, thus, The Mad Fox is something of a punchy way to leap into it. For that reason, if you are in the same boat as myself – I cannot recommend this Blu Ray enough simply for Jasper Sharp’s commentary that truly helped me understand what film I just watched, why it makes some of the choices that it does, and why this film deserves some attention. Not that a film should require someone to guide its viewer through the entire thing, but for someone that is not well versed in the mythos, fantasy elements, or time period of The Mad Fox – it’s a must listen.