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The Mad Fox [Blu-ray review]

Summary
In stark contrast to the monochrome naturalism of his earlier masterwork Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, visionary master director Tomu Uchida took inspiration from Bunraku and kabuki theater for arguably his strangest and most lavishly cinematic film, The Mad Fox. Amidst a mythically-depicted medieval Japan, a court astrologer foretells a great disturbance that threatens to split the realm in two. His bitter and treacherous wife conspires to have the astrologer killed, as well as their adopted daughter, Sakaki. The astrologer's master apprentice, Yasuna, who was in love with Sakaki, is driven mad with grief and escapes to the countryside. There, he encounters Sakaki's long-lost twin, Kuzunoha, and the pair meet a pack of ancient fox spirits in the woods, whose presence may be the key to restoring Yasuna's sanity, and in turn bringing peace to the fracturing nation. Finally available outside Japan for the first time, Uchida's stunning, wildly stylized widescreen tableaux - using expressionist sets and color schemes - are highlighted in a world premiere Blu-ray™ release.
Good
  • Criminally underseen Japanese movie
Bad
  • Not a very interesting Toei movie
8.5
Great
Video - 8.8
Audio - 8.4
Movie - 7.9
Special Features - 8.7

The Mad Fox is Kabuki, Animation, 60s studio drama and historical fiction wrapped into one film. Often declared one of the weirdest Japanese films, The Mad Fox had quite the reputation before I watched it. Well, I ended up watching it four times before I felt I could write something about the film. That was after a ton of research to get context.

First up is the notion of the Fox Spirit. Many ancient mythologies have supernatural things that can change shape, but how many only turn into beautiful women? They only do this for one or two reasons. The Fox Spirit wants to seduce or consume their male victims. Depending on the tale, this could either be a good or bad thing. Ambiguity goes over super well in the West.

the mad fox 2

Tomu Uchida was a big fan of his films not having direct themes. I can appreciate that, but it helps to create a barrier for non native viewers. When you watch the film for the first time, the entire first act is exposition that doesn’t make sense upon initial viewing. From there, the Mad Fox dives deep into a Bunraku history that never lets up.

Toei was starting to go harder into scope and increased gore at this time. There are a few cool shots in The Mad Fox of some killer kills. But, the movie suffers from wanting to be everything to everyone. You have a bit of fantasy, horror kills and a ton of deep history that is almost impenetrable for Westerners. Yet, you can’t take your eyes off of the movie.

The Mad Fox [Blu-ray review] 3

Arrow Academy is quickly becoming my favorite part of Arrow. Whether it’s the classic Altman movies or the deep foreign cuts, they are picking up the slack that powerhouses like Criterion are missing. The Mad Fox is the kind of release that I never expected to appear in the Summer, but it has brightened my season.

I love it when certain releases can expand my knowledge base. While I’ve seen a ton of movies, there are certain cult releases that I’ve only caught whiff of in reference books and through secondhand talk. A Fugitive From The Past is the director’s masterpiece, but I feel we sleep on The Mad Fox.

The Mad Fox [Blu-ray review] 5

The Mad Fox Blu-ray comes with a new commentary, trailer and image gallery. The booklet is supposed to be a limited time thing because people don’t read anything in standard editions. Check out the screenshots to get a sense of the A/V Quality. While some shots look a little rough, I dig the fact that we’re getting to see The Mad Fox.

The Mad Fox arrives from Arrow Video on June 23rd

Written by
Troy Anderson is the Owner/Editor-in-Chief of AndersonVision. He uses a crack team of unknown heroes to bring you the latest and greatest in Entertainment News.

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