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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 27, 2003

'Blood of Samurai' to return in TV series

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

"Blood of the Samurai," the biggest little award-winning picture to come out of Hawai'i, will segue into "Blood of the Samurai: The Series," perhaps as early as summer. It could be on island TV by fall.

Aaron Yamasato's "Blood of the Samurai" is being made into a six-episode TV series, and will retain its stars from the low-budget movie: from left, Michael Ng, Shawn Forsythe and Bryan Yamasaki.

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Its creator-director, Aaron Yamasato, 32, is in pre-production to launch a six-episode sequel to his shoestring budget award-winner, which already has a couple of awards and a run in a commercial movie house here.

"I wanted to do a sequel," said Yamasato, an advocate of samurai films, the horror genre and kung-fu movies, elements of which thrived in the original movie. "When talking to friends, we got the idea that a TV series might work out best."

The original movie won the 2001 Hawai'i International Film Festival's Aloha Airlines Hawai'i Film & Videomaker Award and a Telly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film/Video Production, as well as a Special Achievement Award at the B-Movie Theater Film Festival in New York. It recently played at the Sony Video Theatre at The Art House at Restaurant Row.

"Blood of the Samurai" cost only $2,000 to produce. Yamasato said he finally recovered the investment, though overhead for marketing and promotion means he's still low on bucks but high in spirit.

"We're now calling the movie 'the pilot,' as we start planning to do fund-raising for the series," said Yamasato, who sees a future for his modest TV serial. If it materializes, "Blood" would be the first "indie" martial arts action show originating from the Islands.

Yamasato has been negotiating with Oceanic Cable, with OC 16 as a possible showcase for the TV series, but also exploring other options. Decision-makers want to see the product, however, before making final commitments.

"We'll start casting next month, and I want to start filming in early summer and finish by summer's end," Aaron Yamasato said.

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"The six episodes form a continuous, complete narrative," said Yamasato, who will again direct. But, he said, he wants to pay his friends, who donated time and talent and worked free on the original movie.

"This TV thing has to be bigger (money-wise) than the movie," he said. "I even have four writers now — and we just put the final touches on the scripts."

Yamasato's writer colleagues in the endeavor are Kamuela Kaneshiro, a local filmmaker, magician and anime fan; Ian Hirokawa, a lawyer, comic book fan and Kikaida expert; and Anderson Le, programmer and educational coordinator of the annual Hawai'i International Film Festival.

Moving up from a one-camera movie, Yamasoto intends to have multiple cameras for this digital video shoot.

The series, melding action, humor and pop culture sensibilities, will pick up after the original film and retain most characters. Rob (Michael Ng) has relocated to Hawai'i and initiated rigorous training in the use of mystical samurai swords under a demanding mentor. A new character, Sho, will be introduced, and plot elements will tap a female ninja, an occult expert, and a syndicate leader. There will be some gore and blood, quite a bit of butt-kicking, and conflicts between allies and enemies.

Yamasato hopes the series will attract a Kikaida following, with its similar measure of martial arts, fantasy and intrigue.

He's busy mounting support for his project. With the success of "Blood," he's managed to meet with several individuals and corporations who could potentially throw him a bone.

"We'll start casting next month, and I want to start filming in early summer and finish by summer's end," Yamasato said.