During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan’s fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan (Unasaka) to take an important position within the shogunate in far away Edo. Munezo has lived modestly with his mother and sister Shino after his father was forced into suicide after the failure of a bridge project. Kie, a farm girl serves them as a maid in their house. As time passes, Munezo’s sister marries Samon, his mother dies, Kie is married into a merchant family, and he is required to learn western methods of warfare such as the use of artillery and firearms from an official sent from Edo. Learning that Kie is ill due to abuse, he rescues her from her husband’s family. Although sharing mutual affection and respect, a marriage between Munezo and Kie is still impossible due to different castes, and when he, now a bachelor, is criticized for her serving in his house, Munezo sends her back to …
User Reviews: I’ve always enjoyed Asian movies as they seem to deal with emotional issues far better than we do in the West. This film is a great illustration of this, set in 19th Century Japan centring on a samurai called Katagiri with a strand of tales which cover restricted love, friendship, honour and killing.
Duty and culture are the main issues for Katagari as he battles with them whilst they forbid him to live a happier life. The film though never treats these issues heavily but rather takes you on a journey for the viewer to understand the world they live in before making a rounded judgement. The beautiful rural setting for this film adds to the atmosphere, whilst the acting is understated but delightful befitting the reticent culture the main characters live within.
Regardless of the title, there is actually no real battling at all until the end, and even then it is carefully controlled so as not to make this appeal to fans of sword fighting movies. If anything, the battle is only there as a side on to the rest of the movie whose themes are far more important.
Overall, I would recommend this to everyone it is beautiful, interesting and a diversion from the usual fair we all watch on film and TV. You are unlikely to watch many other films as beautifully done as this one all year.