90s Far East Bracket: Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O (Stairway To The Distant Past, 1995)

The first film in my seventh match-up in the first round of the 90s Far East Bracket is, um, well, yeah…

Written By: Kaizô Hayashi & Daisuke Tengan
Directed By: Kaizô Hayashi

and it’s kind of awkward like that, you know?

Oh, I’m sorry, did joining the review in mid-sentence confuse you and throw you for a loop a bit? That’s how I felt watching Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O, and it’s a feeling that never went away. I didn’t know when I snatched up Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O for what I believe will be my last match-up in the first round of the Far East Bracket that it was the second film in a trilogy, and now that I know this I wish I hadn’t of picked this as one of my films. I tried and tried to shake that feeling of entering a conversation mid-sentence, but scene after scene called on the previous film or some sort of previous knowledge of this world and these characters that I didn’t possess. I don’t want to be that guy who upon entering the conversation in mid-stride utters, “Wait, what are we talking about?” but I will wave my white flag and ask, “wait, what was this movie about?”

I don’t think seeing the first film in the trilogy would have changed my opinion of Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O that much though. I know I just wrote a whole paragraph detailing how I had trouble knowing what was going on in this film because of my lack of knowledge of the first film in the trilogy, but that has little to do with the craftsmanship on display. I realized early on that Kaizô Hayashi intended for Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O to be a homage film to a number of different genres. He doesn’t succeed in pulling this off because instead of being one strong film, Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O is a mess of ideas that are randomly tossed at the viewer with no connective tissue between them. Even going beyond my lack of trilogy knowledge, I had trouble caring about what I was seeing on the screen because Hayashi never really gave me a reason to care. Hayashi moved from idea to idea so quickly that I often had to stop the DVD and think about who this character was and why all of a sudden she was being killed in some weird manner.

Who knows, maybe I’m wrong and seeing the first film will change my opinion of Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O, but I am doubtful. I’ve greatly enjoyed my time in the 90’s Far East Bracket so far, but Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O falls into the miss category of films I’ve seen in the bracket to this point. I won’t recommend, or not recommend, as the case may be, Harukana Jidai No Kaidan O, but I didn’t enjoy it, I can tell you that much.

Rating:

**

Cheers,
Bill

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