Japanese Cinema won’t be recognized globally without samurai flicks or chanbara as casually called. The typical story of men and women engaged in the way of samurai. It shows a lot common types of stories such as a wandering swordsman helps someone or a village, swordsman in the middle of political struggle, or simply a swordsman on his way to retirement but called upon to serve one last time. How about a swordsman who is destined to die but yet, want to do one last meaningful job.. There are a lot of stories you can really think of.
While watching this movie, like at the towards of the middle, I thought, what if a story about a simple but great swordsman who becomes a madman because of technique. Sure, most of the villains in other films of this genre are like that, but I think few or none of those films showing the lead character becoming like an anti hero of sorts.
After almost 2 hours of action and dramatic climax, I got what I wanted. This is it! That’s why the title itself named like this. I mean, a sword is like other deadly weapon made by man. What if that person, succumbs to that weapon? I mean especially in those old times that a weapon is sometimes the only mean to survive, especially in Feudal Japan. Warring states, clans or even gangs are not really a good and healthy environment to live to.
Anyway, there are 2 minor flaws that I hoped it happened in this film. Of course, it has many plot holes left behind but that’s forgivable, and for me forgettable. The first minor flaw was I hoped, Ryunosuke (the main character) fought Toranosuke, the samurai who killed Ryunosuke’s squad in front of him. It’s the only time of the film that despite Ryunosuke flawless technique was really scary and great, shown fear to an opponent. I hope they fought and maybe the film might end at that scene if happened.
Another flaw that I wanted to see, was the revenge of the younger brother. The first scene involves Ryunosuke was commanded to literally lose a match against his rival just to preserve the clan, but Ryunosuke saw that the opponent will kill him using a banned technique. Ryunosuke killed the opponent and it’s one of the reasons how this story went. That opponent has a younger brother practiced hard to get vengeance but unfortunately, it did not reach that point.
Three simple yet great factors I love this film making it a samurai classic to me. I was shocked it left a mark to me, with such a tour de force samurai film.
First factor was the actors played in the film, all the actors played just right even Toranosuke who only appeared like 5 minutes really impressed me. Of course, the actor played Ryunosuke played splendid. I mean, his transformation from being sociopath, pride samurai into a madman really driven this film into a classic. Then don’t forget of course the other actors/characters, even the girl who played the grand daughter of the monk, then had a surprised twist at the end. Superb cast indeed.
Another factor was the director and the screenplay worked hard together to make this film, surprise classic. I mean despite a long screen time, it really doesn’t felt that way as every scene is important. The last 20-30 minutes seems gave me really the excitement and chills as the climax of the film. It was that good that I watch it many times only that part. Wow, those final minutes almost tops even the other samurai flicks made recently. The dialogue although not really complicated but simple yet meaningful. Less dialogue about honor or pride, they used simple dialogue to make the story meaningful and developing especially when approaching at the end.
Lastly, the action scenes. Wow, as a samurai flick fan I mean, that style of Ryonusuke is clever but deadly. Actually he did not use it at the first parts of the film but at the end of this one, I mean it literally that style kept him going. Despite that abrupt ending, I did not care. What I enjoyed that last part was how he was able to show that his sword and style really succumb into evil. I mean why suddenly kill your comrades right? And yes, when he started to hear those voices who he killed, it just drove him mad. I liked the sword fights and that last minutes of this film, crazy, outrageous, great!
That was really a great ending. I can guess, at the end of course, he should be dead. Or if not, he will face that younger brother of the one he killed before. Or he’ll commit sepukku due to the unending guilt or rage.. It’s an open ending. I was shocked that it ended that way, I tried to rewind or search in the web if that was it.
Yes, that was it. I can’t believe it!