Love and Honor

"Excellent"

Love and Honor Review


The final film of legendary Japanese director Yôji Yamada's introspective trilogy of 19th-century samurai life, Love and Honor is as elegant and meditative as the two films that preceded it. Like The Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade, it features intimate psychological drama rather than slashing swordplay. In fact, the movie has only one sword fight, and it consists of only three or four swings of the blade, but don't let that dissuade you. You won't be bored.

Mid-level samurai Shinojo (Takuya Kimura) is in a career slump. He finds himself working as one of five food tasters for the local samurai lord, making sure his boss's sashimi isn't poisoned. It's a living that provides him and his wife Kayo (Rei Dan) with a nice house, a large rice quota, and an old and loyal servant named Tokuhei (Takashi Sasano), but it's not too thrilling.

Shinojo's comfortable life suddenly comes undone when he tastes some toxic shellfish, falls into a three-day coma, and wakes up irreversibly blind. Although he has made this terrible sacrifice for his lord, there's no guarantee that the castle will put him on what we could call permanent disability. He could lose his status, his house, and his rice. Of what use is a blind samurai?

Eager to do what she can, Kayo takes the advice of her meddling relatives and seeks out a samurai chief named Shimada (Mitsugoro Bando) who has offered her assistance. The naïve young woman doesn't realize that his help will come at an awful cost, but she's willing to compromise her virtue to ensure that her husband will always be taken care of. Sadly, news travels fast in a small castle town, and when Shinojo learns that his wife has been walking into questionable tea houses, he has Tokuhei follow her. When he learns the awful truth of Kayo's deal with Shimada, the humiliated Shinojo has no choice but to cast her out in about 30 seconds.

Now there's only one bit of business left: to seek revenge on Shimada, but how can a blind samurai engage in swordplay? After a bit of Karate-Kid style wax-on, wax-off practice, Shinojo develops a new fighting style that just might work.

Yamada deserves great credit for looking behind decades of cinematic samurai clichés (including dozens of blind samurai stories) to find some real human emotion in stories of conflicted men just trying to the right thing in a rigidly codified society. All three of his samurai films succeed on this count, and their production design is exquisite. Takuya Kimura, who is far better known in Japan as a heartthrobby J-pop star than as an actor, creates a character of dignity and, as the title says, honor. Blind or not, he deserves to carry his samurai sword.

Aka Bushi no ichibun.

Wax on, eyes off.



Love and Honor

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd March 2013

Box Office USA: $16.3k

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Deep Blue Pictures, Red 56

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 13%
Fresh: 2 Rotten: 13

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Hiroshi Fukuzawa, Ichiro Yamamoto

Starring: as Mickey Wright, as Candace, as Juniper / Jane, as Peter, Wyatt Russell as Topher, Max Adler as Burns, Austin Stowell as Dalton Joiner

Also starring: ,

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