Tuesday, November 3, 2015

On The Trail: 'Blazing Samurai' Gets Cast and New Release Date

Blazing Samurai is a rather interesting film that's on the horizon...

I've never really written about it here, but I've been aware of its existence for a while. It's an original, family-friendly story inspired by one of cinema's all-time comedy greats, Mel Brooks' decidedly family-unfriendly Blazing Saddles. The tale appears to be a mash-up of the Wild West, feudal Japan, and animated movies set in worlds where only anthropomorphic animals exist. (Robin Hood, Kung Fu Panda, Zootopia, et al)

It's about a dog who goes on a quest to become a samurai, in order to save his town - Kakamucho - from an evil cat warlord. Yes, once again cats are the bad guys here, but I like this premise. The Blazing Saddles connection is also interesting, because Blazing Saddles is of course not a family film in any way, shape, or form. It's R-rated, and it probably wouldn't be made in this day and age given the kind of jokes it has.

Mel Brooks himself, interestingly enough, is voicing one of the characters and is executive producing the picture. It being inspired by Blazing Saddles and Brooks being involved makes me wonder what direction they're taking the humor in: Will the film be a little edgier than the usual family-friendly animated film? Will it be similar to films like Rango and ParaNorman?

Who is behind it? For starters, The Lion King director Rob Minkoff is producing... The directors? Chris Bailey is one of them, who helmed the awesome 1995 Mickey Mouse short Runaway Brain. That one's a personal favorite! He has also directed episodes of TV shows, like Clerks and Kim Possible, in addition to Disney's 3D A Bug's Life-themed Animal Kingdom attraction It's Tough To Be a Bug. Okay... That's enough of a selling point for me right there.

The other director is Mark Koetsier, a long-time story artist and animator. He's worked at Disney Animation, DreamWorks, and has even worked on some animated TV shows here and there. Writers? Nate Hopper and Ed Stone. This is the duo's first feature film script, so I can't say much. Their resumes are kind of small, one look at their IMDb shows their work in short films and such. Stone is an actor, who appeared in some 90s films like Species and Dante's Peak.

A co-production between Mass Animation, Huayi Brothers, Flying Tigers Entertainment, and GFM Films, it's going to be distributed by Open Road Films, who found success with ToonBox/Red Rover's low budget animated flick The Nut Job a year ago.

Until now, it was set to open on April 14, 2017. Now it's set to open on August 4, 2017...

That's a much better release date, as the original one put it against Fast & Furious 8, and it was also one week after Blue Sky's Ferdinand... And Ferdinand's opening weekend is the week after Get Smurfy! opens. I don't believe in the whole "animated films cannibalize each other" thing, but I still think they should be spaced out a bit.

With Blazing Samurai out of April 2017, I think Blue Sky should move Ferdinand to April 21, 2017, that way Sony's all-animated Smurf reboot is given some breathing room.

The new date pits it against Pitch Perfect 3, but I don't think that film will be much of an issue. Pitch Perfect isn't like Fast & Furious, where everyone and their brother goes to see it.

It also has a full cast, which indicates that it's about to go full steam ahead... Or already is going full steam ahead...

The cast consists of Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cera, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B. and Heavenly Joy Jerkins

Wow... That's a big cast. Who will they voice? According to ComingSoon.net...

Cera will voice the protagonist, while Jackson will voice a former cat warrior-turned-drug addict (don't worry kids, it's cat-nip he'll be addicted to) that takes Hank under his wing and trains him. Brooks himself voices leader Shogun. The villain's enforcer Ogha will be voiced by Takei, two Laurel and Hardy-esque town cats - Ichiro and Chuck - will be voiced by Aasif Mandvi and Gabriel Iglesias. Djimon Honsou, surprisingly not playing a villain, will be voicing a "gentle giant" named Sumo. The town's Grand Dame is being played by Sandra Tsing Loh, child actress Heavenly Joy Jerkins will voice feisty wannabe warrior kitten Emiko, while Michelle Yeoh (who was the Soothsayer in Kung Fu Panda 2) will voice her overprotective mother Yuki. Mel B., interestingly enough, will play a giraffe who thinks she's a cat...

Yes, this sounds like a very out-there, creative kind of animated film... Which I like! I'm actually really interested in this project.

Again... It's inspired by one of the greatest comedies ever, has the force behind said comedy involved, has a diverse cast, has an oddball story, and just seems all-around cool.

What do you think about this project?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, once again cats are the bad guys here

    Not all of them. If ComingSoon.net is to be believed, there will be heroic (or at least non-evil) cat characters in this movie, including Hank's mentor Jimbo, who frankly sounds awesome.