The legendary samurai Sasuke Sarutobi tracks the spy Nojiri, while a mysterious figure named Sakon leads a band of men on their own quest for the wily Nojiri. Soon no one knows just who is ... See full summary »
The legendary samurai Sasuke Sarutobi tracks the spy Nojiri, while a mysterious figure named Sakon leads a band of men on their own quest for the wily Nojiri. Soon no one knows just who is who and what side anyone is on. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cool, stylized 60's fare. Shallow action fans should give it a pass, though.
If you're lucky enough to get a hold of the Criterion DVD, or perhaps another version with some accurate explanatory material, you will have the benefit of the brief explanatory comments in a recent taping made by the director, Masahiro Shinoda.
He felt that the era of the swashbuckling, self-serious samurai films, such as those of Kurosawa, had come to an end. He wanted to go into a new direction for samurai cinema, that of film noir. This is a political spy tale set in the early 17th century.
The fighting is very stylized, and really just serves as a physical representation of the intrigue, rather than drawing attention to itself. Kurosawa got into the game when the swordplay was rather choreographed, and made things much more realistic, with people stumbling around in the mud, tripping and slipping as they took wild swipes with their swords. Again, Shinoda wanted to go against the grain.
There are cool villains, especially Takatani, completely covered in white, including his hooded head, and he has a soft, menacing voice, too.
The hero, Sasuke, is troubled by war, and waxes philosophical on more than one occasion about the whole business of war and spying.
The music is cool with a jazzy capricious flute, very 60's cool. Shinoda talks a bit about that as well in the interview.
I did not understand the apparently new character in the very last shot, so if someone can shed some light on it, please send me a private message on here.
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