I watched this movie a few weeks ago and I still can't find the right words to write a review. It was a good film, and I enjoyed it very much. There is a lot to be said about the movie and one very important thing is the story of love between father and daughter. Sea Kumada, who played the young daughter is an awesome actor!
About the Movie: Nomi Kanjuro (Takaaki Nomi) is a master less samurai on the run after throwing away his sword for good. He has with him his headstrong 9-year-old daughter Tae (Sea Kumada). A bounty is soon placed on Nomi Kanjuro and 3 assassins go after the score.
When Nomi Kanjuro is eventually captured and placed in front of the local feudal lord (Jun Kunimura) he is given a choice. A boy prince has been grieving ever since the death of his mother. Nobody has been able to make the boy smile. Nomi can attempt to make the boy smile within 30 days or he must commit seppuku (suicide).
Critical Buzz: From Twitch-
With his third film, writer/director Hitoshi Matsumoto makes a few things clear, for starters that he is an incredibly talented filmmaker. His previous films "Dai-Nipponjin" and "Symbol" sure were funny (if quite weird for most people's tastes), but especially the latter revealed that Matsumoto had more to bring to the table. The luchadore build-up showed that Matsumoto owned a good eye for detail and wasn't just good at making a gimmicky fool of himself in front of the camera. And guess what: "Symbol" wasn't a lucky shot, as it is exactly this same filmmaking talent which "Scabbard Samurai" shows in spades.
Proceedings still get a bit outlandish at times, especially when Kanjuro meets some very odd bounty hunters at the beginning of the film, but for the most part "Scabbard Samurai" plays it straight. No huge shifts in reality, no meta-tomfoolery, no winky-wink towards the audience. And Matsumoto himself never appears onscreen, unless I've missed a hidden cameo.
Instead, the largest part of the film is filled with the many different attempts to make the boy smile and these are presented in a deadpan fashion. In fact, the relentless repetition of bad idea, bad execution and failure become a hypnotic ritual in itself, strangely enough pulling the audience deeper into a proper "Bushido" feel than most straight samurai films manage to do. With his deep sense of duty and uncomplaining suffering throughout his failures, Kanjuro starts building up sympathy but also respect, and seeing this reflected in the people around him is the major source of joy in this film. It helps that the acting is damn strong as well, and that the cinematography looks beautiful enough to give you a holiday feeling. [ read more ]
And from Japan Times:
This comedy, outsiders often complain, is based on humiliation and cruelty, but as Kanjuro so eloquently (if wordlessly) shows, an abused comic can earn sympathy and admiration by displaying his ganbaru (never-say-die) spirit, as well as his tolerance of pain. The crowd starts laughing with him, not at him.
Like Matsumoto's previous two efforts, "Scabbard Samurai" begins more as an ingeniously elaborated skit than a proper film. To deepen his simple story, Matsumoto adds a subplot involving Tae that aims for a tear as well as a smile. Since Tae, as played by 9-year-old Kumada, is such an unsentimental scrapper, this works better than it should.
But the film belongs to Nomi's nerdish, bespectacled Kanjuro, who brings it triumphantly to its inevitable, but not overly obvious, conclusion. [ read more ]
Have you seen this movie? Let us know what you think!
|JAPAN CUTS: Festival of New Japanese Film, the largest celebration of new Japanese cinema in North America, is 11 days of blockbusters, documentaries, animations, new classics and avant-garde from Japan’s latest and most exciting directors, writers, and actors. Many films will be making their United States premiere. A few will even be having their international and world debuts. And, in celebrating the JAPAN CUTS’ 10th anniversary, an unprecedented number of screenings will feature exclusive introductions and Q&A’s by special guest filmmakers, stars, and artists.|