Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Movie Review: Yoji Yamada's Samurai Trilogy

I've just finished watching Yoji Yamada's Samurai Trilogy. I rented "The Twilight Samurai" and "Love and Honor" from Bay St. Video -- these movies cannot be found at Rogers nor Blockbuster. Nor HMV. ("The Hidden Blade" is the middle film.)

All three films are beautiful. All three make me weep.

As much as these are deeply profound stories of warriors and bushido, they also qualify as "chick flicks." Every film has a powerful love story that is sure to make women swoon.

Yamada's artistry is unsurpassed. The look and feel of the movies are absolutely authentic. It's like travelling back in history.

And performances are magnificent. Unforgettable. Haunting.

The trilogy is among my favourite films of all time, right up there with Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" and James McTeigue's "V for Vendetta."

My life is supremely richer for having seen these films. I can't recommend them enough.

I promise I shall devote 6 hours every year to watch the trilogy for the remainder of my life... (I can't say this about any other movie.)

The Twilight Samurai - A samurai, and lowly clerk, is ordered to kill a dishonoured samurai who refuses to commit hara-kiri. His sick wife died, and he has two young daughters and a senile mother to take care of. Thus, his colleagues have given him the nickname "Twilight."

The Hidden Blade - A samurai is ordered to kill one of his best friends who has escaped from the law. Unfortunately, his friend is a far better swordsman. He must also take revenge against a high-ranking official who raped his friend's wife.

Love and Honor - A samurai loses his sight tasting food for his Lordship and struggles to stay alive in a world that has no use for a blind samurai. When his wife is dishonoured and effectively raped by a high-ranking samurai official, he must engage in a duel to the death. He is resigned to his fate.

I have to confess, though, that The Hidden Blade is my favourite of the three.

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