Written & directed by Raffi Asdourian, of ZAFFI Pictures.
Although the plot is cliche’ – a kid whose family is murdered grows up training for revenge, it is far from simplistic; counter intuitively working exactly because of (& despite) being a cliche’.
This film makes the cliche’ work in that the story is about a samurai in training, so the trope makes sense. And that samurai element is another beneficial feature-- particularly because the samurai Bushido philosophy interests me... but also because the samurai are an intriguing character concept, capable of inspiring intriguing stories.
Ai - Life in the Shadow of Death is archetypal in plot, as well as in its portrayal of samurai attitudes.
And even better, where it breaks from cliche’, is having a woman as the central character in a samurai story! By which I mean, living not only the samurai way of life, but in a role typically reserved for men.
To its credit, the fight scenes are more realistic & organic than cinematically stylized/ exaggerated like most choreographed fight scenes tend to be in TV/ movies, imbuing the tale with authenticity.
Magnificently produced— visually, thematically, narratively.
Open-ended, Ai would be a great series pilot.