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The Tattooist - Tatau Movie

Updated on June 23, 2009

A supposed horror movie, I found this a little less than scary. Jake Sawyer is an American tattoo artist with a past - as a child he tattooed himself in his basement with some pentagrams only to have his father, a religious man, cut the skin off his arm while reciting the lord's prayer. From these wounds of a tattoo gone wrong, comes a character who turns to plying healing tattoos upon the world, picking up old tattoos from ancient traditions that are said to have healing properties.

Anyway, Jake is drawn to a beautiful woman that he noticed at the tatau ritual, but before that, he cuts himself with the au during a confrontation with a former client. Jakes wounded hand supurates and doesn't seem to heal and he travels to New Zealand to try and track her down and return the au to her.

While working at a tattoo convention in Singapore, Jake notices some traditional Somoan tatau taking place and is drawn to it, stealing an ancient tatau implement called an au in an attempt to learn this powerful art that is so tied in with mysticism. Samoan tatau is said to be the origin of tattooing, and certainly, it is the art of tatau that sailors from Europe learned and brought back to the West in the 18th century that could be considered the foundation for modern day tattoos.

Unfortunately, Jake has unleashed a tatau spirit that is out for revenge and with his wounded hand, Jake is unwittingly passing on a deadly curse to everyone he tattoos. He tracks down the beautiful woman he saw in Singapore (whose name is Sina) and almost predictably, ends up tattooing her and then finding out that his tattoos are killing he is in a race against the clock to find out what the spirit wants so that he can save Sina.

Yup, the movie is about as exciting as it sounds, and pretty much as predictable. Still, it's ok if you are looking for something to pass the time, and after all, tattoo movies are few and far between, so I guess we owe it to the tatau spirits to at least support the effort to bring the ink to wider appeal. The most redeaming features of the movie are really the tattoos and the introduction to Samoan tatau as more than a simple piece of ink, but as a more spiritual tradition.


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