Monday, July 06, 2015

Comic Con ’15: The Sun Devil and the Princess (short)

Welcome to a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away. However, instead of the Force, the warriors of Karazawa follow the Bushido way. Rather than medieval Europe, this fantasy world takes inspiration from feudal Japan. However, the southwestern sounding horned creature is the reluctant hero of Steven Ayromlooi’s short film, The Sun Devil and the Princess (trailer here), which screens as part of the 2015 Comic Con International Independent Film Festival in San Diego.

For a short film, SD&P presents an unusually richly realized fantasy realm (one that arguably borders on science fiction, but the props consist of swords and daggers, not laser blasters). The floating fortress of the evil Moon Queen is especially impressive. Our title characters have left there in a hurry. To repay a debt of honor, Hirohawa, one of the last surviving Sun Devils of the Ashikage clan has rescued Princess Kyoko, the inspirational symbol of the resistance. Of course, the Moon Queen’s forces are in hot pursuit, resulting in some impressive swordplay and martial arts on Hirohawa’s part.

In some ways, SD&P really does share superficial parallels with what was known as Star Wars in 1977. There is indeed a “new hope” stemming from a daring mission that happened immediately before the film started. There is also a royal to save and a rebellion to inspire. Yet, the trappings are distinctively its own and the fight choreography is terrific. In fact, Hirohawa has one killer move that you have probably never seen before.

SD&P certainly looks like a proof of concept for a proposed feature film, but Ayromlooi packs it with enough action to give genre fans a warm, happy glow. His cast is also polished and professional. While the Sun Devil makeup could perhaps use further refinement, Evan Parke’s Hirohawa has big-screen presence and big-time action chops. For the film’s spiritual side, Mandy Amano portrays Princess Kyoko, the Sun Goddess worshipper, with impressive sincerity and conviction. Plus, cult movie aficionados will get a further kick out of hearing Tony Todd as the voice of the malevolent Baron.

In just half an hour, Ayromlooi establishes a great deal of Karazawa mythology and hooks the audience on his main characters. It is an intriguing world, with first rate fight scenes, which should be more than enough to get fans psyched for a return trip. Highly recommended for sword & sorcery and martial arts fans, The Sun Devil and the Princess screens this Friday (7/10) as part of CCI-IFF ’15 at San Diego Comic Con.