The film begins when the legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi is still named Shinmen Takezo. After being on the losing side of the Battle of Sekigahara, Takezo and his friend manage to escape and come across a young woman and her mother.
An improvement on the 2nd, but still not up to the high standard of the first.
The story is more erratic this time. Things continue from the exact end-point of the 2nd film, at the end of the battle scene, where MM considers the lessons learned. He is there, dominating the film for the first half hour, and then, apropos of nothing in particular, abruptly disappears from the film for the next hour. Of course, he is still referred frequently by most of the other characters in his absence. During this hour, some of the familiar characters are followed and at least one crucial character is introduced - the boastful young Sasaki Kojiro, with his unusually long sword.
One took quite a while to recover the flow of the story after this jolting change of pace, but the overall story begins to take even more shape during this time. Therefore, although it was perhaps not the best way to handle proceedings, things eventually worked, and I didn't find the story any less compelling for it.
Otsu and Akemi are still around, and the old woman Osugi is still doggedly trying to inflict pain upon MM. The ending I found very clunky - MM does all but say "stay tuned for the next episode". Argh ! But still, I'll be watching it. Less action than either of the first two, but still pretty good.
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