Love and Honor 武士の一分

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Director: Yoji Yamada
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan, Takashi Sasano
RunTime: 121 min
Genre: Drama (Japanese)
Rating: TBA

Like fine Japanese cuisine, Love and Honor has to be delicately consumed.

Perhaps this is not suitable for those expecting fights and killings in a movie about samurai warriors. In fact, the last piece of the trilogy after director Yoji Yamada’s Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade differs quite a bit in terms of the style.

Simplicity is key. Such is the life of Shinnojo (Takuya Kimura) whose job as a samurai was to taste food for the clan’s lord. There is nothing exciting about his future, merely staying frugal with his dedicated wife Kayo (Rei Dan) and humble servant Tokuhei. After tasting poison accidentally, he not only lost his sight, pride as a samurai, and willingness to fight.

There may be nothing elaborate about the predictable storyline, but it is how the director cooks up a piece unlike previously overdone recipes of success. Watching the movie is like reading a poem, to be slowly appreciated. The film plays with metaphors and camera angles, and the patient audience must savour its dedication to merging art with entertainment.

Takura Kimura proves that he is not just only a pretty pop idol from SMAP, but one who can act as a blind with controlled emotions. His wife Rei Dan emits vulnerability and strength at the same time, which can remind many of the television character Oshin. The other supporting roles, namely the servant and nosey auntie who are the spices and comic relief, also provides a mirror to the realities of life.

It can be easy for such a film to fall into melodramatic tragedy or fast sword-fighting saga, but the film maintained its integrity. A movie of sense, sensibility and samurais, Love and Honor may not appeal to a mainstream audience, but the rest will slowly relish its fine taste.

Love and Honor - Sense, sensibility and samurai

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