Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "The Twilight Samurai" ("Tasogare Seibei") (2002)

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Movie: "The Twilight Samurai"
Director: Yoji Yamada
Year: 2002
Rating: NR
Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a poor, low-level samurai whose wife has recently passed away. He must take care of his mother, who is very old and senile. In addition, he also has two young daughters he must care for, too. He works as the counter of dried fish, and every day after work, his fellow samurai ask him to drink or play games with them. He always declines because he must be home before dark so he can care for his daughters. This has garnered him the nickname 'Twilight.' An old childhood friend named Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) comes to visit Seibei. He has always been infatuated with her, but because he is a low ranking samurai, he has always felt as if she is too high ranking for him to pursue. Seibei defends Tomoe one night against her drunk, abusive ex-husband, who challenges Seibei to a duel. The next day, instead of fighting with an actual sword, he uses a wooden practice sword, which is no better than a stick. After defeating Tomoe's ex-husband, he is ordered by his master to fight a battle to the death against a samurai who has been disobedient.

This is a unique take on a samurai film. Viewers are often exposed to the more glamorous side of the life of a samurai, but this is a humbling portrayal which delves into the ranks of the samurai. Most of these types of films are full of stylized sword fighting, and numerous action scenes which shows the samurai in a more majestic form. These films also tend to focus on the Bushido aspect the samurai life, that being a warrior is their primary goal and desire. Seibei never had the want or ambition to be a warrior, only that he wants to do his job counting fish and take care of his family relatively unscathed. This film focuses largely on the love story between Seibei and Tomoe, which subsequently revolves around the class system of the samurai. Towards the end of the film, viewers get to see one of the most realistic sword fight, not stylized in any way, and you're not going to see gushing blood, heads being lopped off, or people performing physically impossible super high jumps, no floating around, no majesty, just realism and what a sword fight may actually look like. Overall, it's a good foreign film to see if you want to shy away from the highly unrealistic samurai movies.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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