A small band of 500, led by an apparent buffoon, defends its fortress against a mighty army of 20,000 in “Floating Castle.” Though boasting elaborate production values, Isshin Inudo and Shinji Higuchi’s seriocomic feudal-war epic delights most with its gallery of robustly swaggering characters on both sides of the conflict. Skedded to bow last fall, “Castle” will open in November so as to avoid associations between Japan’s tsunami disaster and the full-scale floods that figure prominently in the film. Like many others of its kind, this enjoyable example of a popular Japanese genre will probably remain landlocked.An army that overran and unified almost all Japan arrives at a lake-protected castle, supremely confident its inhabitants will surrender to the vastly greater forces confronting them. But Narita (Mansai Nomura), beloved but not much respected, capriciously resolves to fight, despite counsel by everyone to capitulate. He wins over a motley group of warriors that includes a natural leader, a crusty old samurai, a princess soldier and a kid armed with nifty defense techniques. Between Narita’s tactical tomfoolery and the peasants’ punchy fighting spirit, the mighty legion is in for a rough time.
A Toho Co. release of an Asmik Ace, C&I Entertainment production. (International sales: the Floating Castle Film Partners, c/o Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Tokyo.) Produced by Osamu Kubota, Shinji Ogawa. Executive producers, Kazuya Hamana, Ichiro Nobukuni, Masao Teshima. Directed by Isshin Inudo, Shinji Higuchi. Screenplay, Ryo Wada, from his novel.
Camera (color, widescreen), Motonobu Kiyoku, Shouji Ebara; editor, Soichi Ueno; music, Koji Ueno; production designer, Norihiro Isoda; art director, Noriyuki Kondo. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (World Greats), Aug. 30, 2012. Running time: 146 MIN.
Mansai Nomura, Koichi Sato, Nana Eikura, Hiroki Narimiya, Tomomitsu Yamaguchi, Takayuki Yamada, Ysuke Kamiji, Takehiro Hira.