A Lament about Dogs, Warriors and Brothers

In a prior article, I made mention of an anime that was influential in my late-adolescence. The title was The Hakkenden: Legend of the Dog Warriors, and it was based on a series of Japanese books written in the late 1700s. The story chronicled the do-gooder exploits of eight spiritual brothers destined to bring their grandfather’s samurai clan back to greatness. Of course, I’m skating over some important aspects of the plot in that brief description. (Chiefly, the reason they were called “dog” warriors. Look it up, it’s weird.)

Point being, though I never read the source material, the anime fueled my own imagination in a profound way. Some years later, I concocted an idea that modernized the old feudal tale. I envisioned a supernatural crime drama centering around young men tied to different organized mafia factions. Instead of eight, however, I opted for four, and each were spiritually tied to one another by pieces of a mystical crucifix gifted to them by their foster mother.

Said foster mother ended up the victim of a crime syndicate raid, and the four lads vow revenge. One of the centerpieces I imagined was a climactic shootout in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. That and a priest with two sawed-off shotguns showing up. (It was the 90s. Bullet ballets were still cool.)

I even had the perfect title for this little opus – Cursed Lament.

I shelved the idea for several years, as was my M.O. back in the day. No one would dare do an idea like that, I thought. Most Hollywood types had never even heard of Hakkenden. Then, in 2005, this happened.

The premise to Four Brothers was near-identical to the adaptation I had in mind. Four foster brothers – each from different backgrounds – vow revenge on a crime lord for the death of their foster mother. What were the friggin’ odds?! I was pissed.

Distraught, I permanently shelved Cursed Lament and ignored any inkling to watch Four Brothers. The desire to still nagged me over the next half-decade, though. Until a month ago…

I noticed the flick finally showed up on Netflix Streaming. Now, I had no excuse for avoiding it, save for…well…responsibility. One uneventful night, I gave in and queued it up, all the while dreading the possibilities. A part of me held out hope that it didn’t tread on my Cursed idea.

And you know what? It didn’t. Boy, didn’t it?!

The story for the film was an absolute mess from the get-go. For one thing, there didn’t appear to be any emotional connection between the brothers. No fault of the actors involved, but rather the script. I got very little sense that there was a real bond between any of them. On top of that, no real character depth was present . No emotion wept from the screen, either.

Only the moment when the foster mother died at the beginning of the film exuded any hint of gravitas. The rest played out like a typical crime caper. Cursing and bloodletting abound. At the end of it…I was relieved.

My vision for a Mafioso Hakkenden was intact. No Lament necessary.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 Musings

5 Comments to A Lament about Dogs, Warriors and Brothers

  1. Do it.

  2. Robert Godden (The Devotea) on September 11th, 2013
  3. Hollywood story lines are rarely original. Cowboy movies have been borrowing from Kung Fu movies for DECADES. Sorry this one wasn’t executed well though! That is a bummer.

  4. Yvonne King on September 11th, 2013
  5. Glad you idea is still intact, now you just have to write it up! I do think it’s hard to try to communicate the complexity of brotherhood in a movie though (Four Brothers seemed to just decide the best part of this premise was a vehicle to showcase violence, because apparently they believe the audience has no patience for character development), but a TV series would allow for enough time to show how each brother related to the other. And make for lots of opportunities for development of cool fight scenes and the details of a super natural world!

  6. Pech on September 12th, 2013
  7. @Robert – Eventually…

    @Yvonne – Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m GLAD it wasn’t done well. Gives me time to do it right…eventually…

    @Pech – I’m usually a geek-ish fan of ultraviolent flicks…but – agreed – there has to be a point. A TV series…hrm…maybe…

  8. Geoffrey F. Norman on September 12th, 2013
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