Thursday, July 14, 2005

Film — The Hidden Blade

Another mid-19th century samurai film from Yoji Yamada, the director of 2003's Twilight Samurai; and very much in the same mood, as a lower rank samurai wrestles with the obligations and restrictions of his station. Son of a disgraced father, unable to marry the woman he loves, Munezo Katagiri is finally ordered to kill his one-time closest friend, who has been condemned for fomenting rebellion.

As in the earlier film, this comission is the central dilemma, and its consequences form a fitting conclusion to the film. Sure, there is the obligatory slapstick retainer; and the comedic sight of traditional warriors just not getting it when being trained in modern military drill — such as having to be yelled at not to bow to each other while passing the artillery shells — but those act to throw the whole state of turmoil into sharp relief.

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