The Hidden Blade

0
0
Subscribe to Masatoshi Nagase alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 132 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 30th October 2004

Distributed by: Tartan Films

Production compaines: Eisei Gekijo, Shochiku Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Hiroshi Fukuzawa

Starring: Masatoshi Nagase as Munezô Katagiri, Takako Matsu as Kie, Hidetaka Yoshioka as Samon Shimada, Yukiyoshi Ozawa as Yaichirô Hazama, Tomoko Tabata as Shino Katagiri, Chieko Baishô as Mrs. Katagiri, Kunie Tanaka as Kanbê Katagiri, Sachiko Mitsumoto as Mrs. Iseya, Reiko Takashima as Hazama's Wife, Nana Saito as Bun

The Hidden Blade Movie Review


Like his 2002 movie Twilight Samurai, Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the scenic mountains of northern Japan, is far more interested in samurai psychodrama than swordplay. The film features only one swordfight, and samurai Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) even tells his beautiful servant Kei (Takako Matsu), the secret love of this life, that samurai actually hate to use their swords and rarely even draw them. Schooled on all the glorious samurai legends, she simply can't believe it.

And those samurai legends may be starting to fade. In 1860s Japan, the samurai class is getting nervous as western ways, and western techniques of warfare, threaten their age-old traditions. Local lords are importing guns and cannons, and they hire coaches from the big city to come out and teach these "backwater bumpkins" how England fights. The results are delightfully comical, as the befuddled samurai try to figure out guns, struggle to march in step, and even run in the fashionable way. The trainer ably demonstrates that the western way of running, knees up and arms pumping, is much faster than the samurai way, which involves a lot of tripping over skirts. In one marvelous scene, a squad of 20 or more samurai demonstrate how to fire their new cannon for their lord. How funny that they feel the need to bow after each step. Load. Bow. Ready. Bow. Aim. Bow. Fire. Bow.

Katagiri ignores the lessons as often as he can. He has issues both at home and at work to deal with. His servant Kei has been sent away to marry into a cruel family. His mother, who held his home together, has died, and his sister has left to be married as well. Meanwhile, his best friend Hazama (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) has led a samurai rebellion against a corrupt lord but has been captured and brought back to the town as a prisoner. After he escapes and holds up in a house with hostages, the lord decrees that the best sword fighter, Katagiri, will be ordered to go kill his best friend. If he doesn't, he'll be branded a rebel as well.

Nagase is masterful here, as laconic yet expressive as he was as the too-cool-for-school teenager in Jim Jarmusch's unforgettable Mystery Train back in 1989. He simmers beautifully, with rage, with love, with dejection. He is one of Japan's best, and he's well-served by Yamada's legendary eye, which captures the nitty-gritty details of 19th-century rural life in all its messiness and poverty. The Hidden Blade is a totally immersive experience. You can almost smell the rice boiling over the open charcoal fire.

And by the way, it isn't until the end of the film that the meaning of the title is made apparent, and then, wow. What a brilliant moment of moviemaking. Watch closely!

Aka Kakushi ken oni no tsume.

I see your blade right there.


Contactmusic

0
0
Subscribe to Masatoshi Nagase alerts

Comments

The Hidden Blade Rating

" Excellent "

Advertisement

More Masatoshi Nagase

A Little Chaos Trailer

In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace,...

Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy Album Review

The solo career of Mr Rice is not one you may realistically describe as that with which you may associate a prolific output. His is...

Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of Trailer

In the late 90's and early 00's, The Backstreet Boys were the most powerful boy band in the world. After discovering that they had not...

George The Poet - 1,2,1,2 (Dismantle Remix) Video

George The Poet unveils an audio for the Dismantle Remix of his single '1,2,1,2', taken from the tracks Remixes EP. The track has been produced...

Advertisement

Perfume Genius - Too Bright Album Review

Ever since the release of his debut LP 'Learning' back in 2010, Seattle's Perfume Genius has attracted increasing attention both publicly and critically. His piano...

The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School - O Come All Ye Faithful Video

The angelic voices of The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School perform a moving rendition of classic Christmas carol 'O Come All Ye Faithful'.

Jamie Scott - Last Christmas Video

Jamie Scott of London duo GRAFFITI6 performs an acoustic rendition of Wham!'s 1984 festive single 'Last Christmas' in a black and white one-take video. In...

Christina Aguilera Ft. Brian McKnight - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Video

In 2000, Christina Aguilera recorded a collection of some of her favourite Christmas songs and the sessions resulted in the album 'My Kind of Christmas',...

Advertisement