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Season of the Samurai

by Josh Marks (writer), Washington, D.C., March 01, 2007

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The documentary "Season of the Samurai"looks at this historic event by traveling on the bus with the Japan Samurai Bears through their grueling schedule of 90 games in 97 days in their one and only se

One of the must unusual sports stories to ever take place has been captured for posterity by filmmakers Danny Gold and Matthew Asner. In the summer of 2005 a ragtag group of Japanese baseball players became the first foreign team to compete in an American professional sports league.

The documentary "Season of the Samurai"looks at this historic event by traveling on the bus with the Japan Samurai Bears through their grueling schedule of 90 games in 97 days in their one and only season in the Golden Baseball League.

Led by their foul-mouthed manager, ex-major leaguer Warren Cromartie, the players must adjust to a new culture and language while trying to win ball games. With no home base, the barnstorming team jumps around California and Arizona visiting cities from Long Beach to Surprise.

Cromartie is one of the great personalities of the game but his in-your-face management style conflicts with many of the more reserved Japanese players and it made for a roller-coaster season. The team lost most of their games, never really clicking despite numerous changes in the lineup. However, despite finishing in last place with a 33-57 record they were only three wins shy of setting the record for most victories by an all-traveling team.

Fueled by a pulsating soundtrack of Japanese pop rock music, the film is as erratic at times as Cromartie. The over 300 hours of original footage was edited down to 91 minutes but it would have benefited from cutting some of the on-the-field action, which is hard to follow because of some shaky camera work, and replacing it with more of the off-the-field exploits . There are some scenes of them out at a nightclub, cooking food in the hotel room and at Sea World, however not enough of these scenes as their personalities never really fully develop. It would have been nice to see more scenes of them struggling to adjust to a completely different culture as for many of them it was their first time outside of Japan.

Besides Cromartie, the team's translator Blair Sly gets a lot of camera time. It is comical watching him joke around with Cromartie as he tries to translate his F-Bomb-filled speeches to the players. There is one hilarious scene where the players and Sly bet how many times Cromartie will swear in a game. They keep track with a clicker and Sly wins the bet with 167. However, Sly changes as the film progresses and becomes uncomfortable relaying the confrontational messages from Cromartie to the players.

"Season of the Samurai" is a fascinating insider look at this team of wandering Japanese and their difficult but ultimately endearing American manager. It will appeal not just to baseball fans but anyone who enjoys a good underdog story. The film had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival recently so the prospects are good that it will get picked up for distribution.



About the Writer

Josh Marks is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Season of the Samurai

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By Ariel on March 01, 2007 at 11:52 am
Sounds like a fun movie! Is it playing anywhere in LA?
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By Steven Lane on March 01, 2007 at 01:18 pm
Josh, this is not fair! You can not tell a great story like this without telling us exactly where we can go see this. I am a strong believer in the "instant gratification" program. We want it now!
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By Josh Marks on March 01, 2007 at 05:29 pm
Both fair questions. I am checking in with the filmmakers -- Danny Gold and Matthew Asner to check on the theatrical and/or homevid distribution status. Hopefully the film got picked up at Santa Barbara! Check back in the comments section for an answer soon.
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By V on March 01, 2007 at 06:52 pm
I can't wait to see this! Thanks for the heads up.
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By Josh Marks on March 01, 2007 at 07:56 pm
I just heard back from Danny and Matthew and unfortunately they haven't made a distribution deal yet. However the film is being actively marketed for distribution so hopefully they will have a deal to announce soon! My thoughts are that it is such a unique story that somebody has got to pick it up eventually! Until then keep searching the movie theater listings and browsing the shelves of Blockbuster. I'll update everyone when a distribution deal goes through!
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