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CLOSE ON the heels of the blockbuster, ``Gemini'' comes another Vikram bonanza, ``Samurai''. The pre-release fanfare, hype and hoopla have naturally raised a lot of expectations.

With an admirably well-maintained physique and powerful eyes Vikram is all geared up for action in Aalayam's ``Samurai''.

Corrupt VIPs are abducted and the police force is clueless — until an astute and upright police officer Sandhanapandian (Nasser) stumbles upon the truth. Thyagu (Vikram) and his group of four are behind the kidnap. North or South, East or West, and be it a politician or bureaucrat, wherever there is atrocity the gang strikes.

No parallels are to be drawn because even at the outset the makers proclaim that the film is entirely fictitious. Thyagu has a reason for his anger against wrong doers and that of course is revealed in a flashback. He is willing to let go the hostages, on one condition.

The kidnappings, and the action before and after, hang loosely as disjointed incidents and the viewer is totally in the dark about what the boys are really looking for, till the end of the first half.

The story, screenplay and direction are by Balaji Shaktivel. The story has traces of ``Gentleman'' and touches of ``Citizen''. The initial scenes of starvation deaths in the North remind you of similar scenes in Arun Pandian's ``Devan''. Yet probably when your hero is a Robin Hood, a martyr and a socially-conscious fighter similarities are inevitable.

The monologue in the climax is a bit too much to take — many heroes indulge in it and it is now Vikram's turn. Pattukottai Prabhakar's dialogue is otherwise effective and crisp.

A pleasant surprise is that there is no unconnected comedy that hampers the narration. Knowing well that the serious theme does not lend itself to such diversions, the screenplay has stuck to the unfolding of the story alone.

The canvas is wide and the scenic splendour of Nature with its falls, forests, rivers and rocks have been wonderfully panned and canned to provide a visual treat. Kudos to cinematographer Sethu Sriram. Thotta-Yadhu-Dharani's art too deserves appreciation. The heroine Anita is more of an essential prop, but Jayaseel in a cameo has scope to perform, which she does well. Enough ttention has not been paid to lip-sync in the case of both the heroines. Nasser's is a natural, dignified essay.

If it was Bombay Jayasri singing a different tune with ``Vaseegara...'' in ``Minnalae'', it is Nithyashree toeing a different line in ``Oru Nadhi...''in "Samurai". The camouflaged lyrics sound incongruous in the voice of Nithyashree. But probably that was the idea. ``Adithadi Appatha...'' is sheer cacophony. ``Moongil Kaadugalae...'' is a melodious number with excellent lyric value — an enjoyable Vairamuthu-Harris Jeyaraj combination.

``Samurai'' will satisfy action lovers but for those looking for innovation in story and screenplay, the soldier leaves you yearning.


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