Atmospheric samurai drama with a touch of the supernatural
Kenji Misumi is best known for his work on the Zatoichi series and the legendary Lone Wolf films. His eye for nature combined with his flare for stylistic violence makes him one of the masters of the samurai film heyday of the 1960's. This movie comes right in the middle of it all.
This is the story of a man of mysterious parentage who ends up the adopted son of an elderly low-ranking samurai. The man has a special talent for growing flowers which brings him into the employ of the vassals of an insane lord. The vassals are hoping that a beautiful garden will calm the crazed lord. The man eventually becomes a secret assassin for the head vassal who is trying to prevent the lord's insanity from becoming public.
Lots of great sword work, excellent color photography and good acting. The film follows the samurai genre closely with a good amount of political intrigue but the excellent direction by Misumi keeps the pace going at a good clip. There is a supernatural element to the story but it's very low key so if you are looking for a good Japanese ghost or demon story, this isn't going to do it. If you are content with an intriguing variation on the samurai drama, this is recommended.
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