the hidden bladeContinuing on with the theme of Samurai movies: The Hidden Blade is a 2004 production which embodies the current trend in samurai films, the move away from the “severed limbs and fountains of blood” that I touched on earlier. The current move is toward more humanistic portrayals of samurai, focusing on the emtional conflict between giri/ninjo (duty/morality) that happens when orders to do something which the samurai find morally wrong. From the Wiki:

The Hidden Blade (隠し剣 鬼の爪 Kakushi Ken: Oni no Tsume?, literally “Hidden Blade: Oni‘s Claw”) is a 2004 film set in Japan of the 1860s, directed by Yoji Yamada. The plot revolves around several samurai during a time of change in the ruling and class structures of Japan. The film was written by Yamada with Yoshitaka Asama and, like its predecessor The Twilight Samurai, based on a short story by Shūhei Fujisawa. The soundtrack is an original composition by Isao Tomita.

To sum up the plot without giving spoilers:

The epic tale of Munezo a samurai being displaced in a rapidly changing japan. After a failed political coup he is ordered to prove his innocence by finding & killing Yaichiro a former friend samurai & brilliant swordsman. Munezo enlists the help of their old teacher who entrusts him with a secret technique.

I love the attention to detail in the props. Like the teapot and the hot water bedwarmer.  The photography is gorgeous and the high production values really shine. The story really uses the northern Japan setting to its advantage, you never miss Edo. This was just an excellent movie all around. Action fans craving flashing swords and the aforementioned severed limbs will be disappointed since the pace is slow in building to the climatic swordfight. But I prefer the drama and conflict. The resolution between Munezo and Kie is very satisfying. Very highly recommended.