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An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Seibei Iguchi, a low-ranking samurai, leads a life without glory as a bureaucrat in the mid-XIX century Japan. A widower, he has charge of two daughters (whom he adores) and a senile mother; he must therefore work in the fields and accept piecework to make ends meet. New prospects seem to open up when Tomoe, his long-time love, divorces a brutal husband. However, even as the Japanese feudal system is unraveling, Seibei remains bound by the code of honour of the samurai and by his own sense of social precedences. The consequences are cruel. Written by
Eduardo Casais <email@example.com>
So they sent you...
Zenemon Yogo, by order of the clan, I come for your life. Draw your sword, please.
Have a drink? I know you're all keyed up, but I'm going to run.
Yep. I want you to let me get away. If you please.
I didn't expect that fromt he clan's best one-sword man. My orders are to kill you. I can't let you escape.
Don't be so impatient, you can kill me at anytime. I'd like to talk to you. Have a seat. It's a nice day.
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Hiroyuki Sanada (Western audiences may recognize him from his recent turn as Ujio from The Last Samurai, 2003), carries this film with his masterful acting, making the portrayal of "Tasogarei Seibei" (a.k.a. a samurai jokingly called "Twilight" by his colleagues), a poignant and memorable portrayal of a true hero.
Sanada plays Seibei Iguchi, a poor, 50-koku ranked samurai who has to support his two daughters and a senile mother, due to the passing away of his wife. The structure and plot turns of the story are simple, but fascinating to watch unfold, and it is perhaps the simplicity and novelistic grace of the narrative that makes the film so remarkable. Seibei works as a scribe with his fellow samurai, and always has to rush home after work to attend to his duties as a father. He lets hygieine slowly slide into second priority (resulting in rather unkempt clothes and socks), but in general, he doesn't seem to care: his two daughters he treasures above all other things. When a woman named Tomoe, a childhood friend that Seibei was particularly fond of, suddenly re-appers into his life, Seibei makes certain decisions that he ultimately ends up regretting later. The rest of the story is full of very interesting plot develoments, playing with the audience's expectations (especially with the relationship between Tomoe and Seiebi), and although the film is not a traditional samurai film in that it does not have alot of action scenes, the composition of the tale, and its "storytelling" invocation (one of the daughters narrates) is good enough to keep you watching.
Hiroyuki Sanada playing Seibei is really a marvel to watch; he adds a very sensible depth and modesty to the character, and infuses it with some understated comic acting as well. At the end of the film, after the climatic final battle, Sanada is able to make the character of Seibei resonate with a very unconventional but nonetheless strong and beautiful heroism. Sanada is really a very talented thespian, and in this film, you may get to sample the sheer range of his great technique. For the world-class acting work he did in this film, he won a Japanese Academy Award, and the film also got noticed by the Oscars (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, 2004). If there's a chance your able to catch this film in a local theatre (usually, it plays at Landmark) do so, you won't regret it. You'll be able to watch an excellent story unfold, and also see some of the finest acting in world cinema today.
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