Monday, 3 November 2008

Love And Honor (2006) @ 武士の一分

Did she just prostitute the family pride for 30 koku of rice?

At a glance:
Rei Dan 檀れい as Kayo
Wonderful – the finer points of dyin are again available on general release! When do we die? Why do we die? How should we die? In a year of movie trilogies (some would hope they stop at just the three), Yoji Yamada puts forth Love And Honor 武士の一分 (2006) the third film of his samurai series after Twilight Samurai(2002) and Hidden Blade (2004). The billin for this movie could almost fool someone into thinking it might resemble that Tom Cruise Hollywood schlock, The Last Samurai, especially its choice of English titlin, but all the solid, subtle elements of arthouse cinema are thankfully retained. The skinny? In feudal Japan, official Court taster Shinnojo Mimura lives with his wife, Kayo, in the palace town. They get by comfortably enough with his 30-koku (enough rice to feed one person for one year) annual salary, although he had always wanted somethin more challengin, like openin a kendo dojo to teach young kids. Tragedy strikes by way of fish [spoilers] – a sashimi dish was prepared poorly and Shimmojo is poisoned. Upon recovery, he discovers he's blind. Kayo and concerned relatives fuss over the fate of the couple, as Shinnojo is now rendered useless in the palace town and his wife wants to work (big no-no). Fortune favours the blind samurai when palace officials issue a decree which would support him for life but Kayo is implicated in a possible sex-for-food trade-off with one pervy Chief Duty Officer. Did she just prostitute the family pride for 30 koku of rice? Disgraced, Shinnojo divorces her without investigatin further, and challenges the 'receivin' official to a sword duel. Yet, there's still a way out for everyone.