In the first "Sleepy Eyes of Death" film, while I liked the characters, the film was a bit too slow and hard to get into. The third film also had its problems. While the plot was more action-filled and interesting, the hero, Nemuri Kyoshiro, was rather evil and unlikable (and a rapist). Fortunately, sandwiched between these two films is "Nemuri Kyoshiro 2: Shôbu"--a film that shows that this series can be just as satisfying and fun to watch as the Zatoichi series--two Japanese series from the 1960s that have a lot of similarities. The film begins with our impassive hero, Nemuri Kyoshiro wandering into a new town and stumbling into righting some more wrongs. While you'd never be able to tell by his blank expression, the swordsman feels sorry for a boy's plight and fights a duel to save the boy's honor and restore him to his rightful place. In the process, he meets a seemingly insignificant old man, Asashina and the two become friends--or at least as close to becoming friends as you'll see Nemuri Kyoshiro have! This affinity occurs because Asashina is that rare man in one of these Japanese films--a public official who is righteous and caring. It seems that Asashina doesn't care for the luxury and trappings of his job as the Finance Minister--so not dressing up and living and mixing with the "normal folks" is pretty typical for this atypical man. What is also atypical is that Asashina could care less about kissing up to the nobility--his number one concern is what's best for the people. Naturally, the rich and powerful hate the man and it soon becomes obvious someone is trying to kill him! I liked the part of the film that immediately follows, as Kyoshiro takes it upon himself to follow Asashina about--acting as a body guard. Yet, Asashina tells him to get lost and mind his own business! Later, in a funny twist, when assassins come after Kyoshira as well, Asashina begins following Kyoshira--to offer him his protection--though what a toothless old man can do, I have no idea! In fact, the relationship between these two men is what makes this an extraordinary film. Much of the film involves a spoiled and nasty daughter of the Shogun. She is one of the people who wants to see Asashina die. However, she is also a bit stupid and doesn't seem to realize that she is just being used by other forces that want his and Kyoshira's deaths. This plot within a plot makes for an interesting theme in the film. It also leads to some of the more amazing action scenes in the series. This film is definitely NOT as placid and slow as the previous one. Overall, I really liked this film due to an excellent supporting character (Asashina), a very interesting plot and plenty of action. Well worth watching--especially if you are like me and have seen all the Zatoichi films and are looking for something along the same lines.