The Hidden Blade

2004

Action / Drama / History / Romance

60
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 5,772

Synopsis


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May 11, 2020

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.19 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
R
23.976 fps
132 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.44 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
R
23.976 fps
132 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by noralee 8 / 10 / 10

Individuals vs. Society Beautifully Portrayed in the Closing Age of Samurai

"The Hidden Blade (Kakushi-ken: oni no tsume)" is filmed in a deceptively old-fashioned and leisurely style to make pointed observations of Japanese society, much as "Far From Heaven" did for the U.S. Director/co-writer Yôji Yamada again adapts Shuuhei Fujisawa stories as he did so beautifully in "Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei)". Taking place just a few years before Hollywood's "The Last Samurai", this feels like a rebuke and response to that very Westernized interpretation of some of the same issues of how changes in military technology impacted feudalism and imperialism, as well as visually referencing many classic Japanese samurai films, but from a more individualized point of view then Kurosawa, Kobayashi or Inagaki The first half of the film establishes the complicated domestic life and frustrating work of the struggling samurai (a solid and sympathetic Masatoshi Nagase, channeling Toshirô Mifune). The broadly comic scenes of fumbled rifles and cannon training recall similarities with the "Sharpe" TV series of the just a bit earlier Napoleonic wars. Particularly lovely are household hearth scenes of warmth between generations and between master and servants. But this is not the idyllic village where Tom Cruise sojourned, as darker abuse is revealed and the samurai flaunts rigid social protocols to do right by those he cares for, especially the young maid "Kie" (Takako Matsu channeling the three little maids from "The Mikado" a bit too much). He is slow to reveal emotions or take action (the romance goes beyond Jane Austen in its cross-caste sidling and very slow resolution), suppressing vivid childhood memories we see very briefly in flashbacks in contrast to his voluble friend who rebels, including against traditional suicide. The emphasis throughout the film is on generational conflict, as elders who are to be venerated are constantly shown to be fools or much worse -- old uncles complain about younger people (whose names they can't keep straight) using the new Western weapons, but place a higher priority on eating; a mother-in-law viciously mistreats her daughter-in-law to increase profits; a corrupt senior retainer (the feudal titles do not seem well-translated in the subtitles) lies and manipulates while enjoying geishas and complaining about his prostate problems. But a teacher derided as a "crazy old man" who can still best the young swordsman passes on more useful stealth techniques than the martinet drill sergeant who has inherited the honorific "sensei" with his British guns. While as usual in such films, I simply cannot follow the Byzantine shogun politics even with a superfluous narration, as I've never studied Japanese political history, the second half ironically builds on the iconography of the genre with unusual sights and sounds. Macho conflicts are filmed voyeuristically, with sidling camera angles that indicate a passing from mano a mano duels to the anonymity of modern weapons, and thus justifying the use of the titular vengeance. The exquisite cinematography and sound design create a special environment. With a look of faded epic cinematography like the passing of an age, we see snow falling on parasols, cherry blossoms on the path and rain fall on unrequited love. We hear them too, as the breezes, wind, crickets, birds, rain and the household sounds of tools and crackling fire punctuate long silences and dominate more than the conventionally soaring score that is used judiciously. But a prison and eventual bloody fights in a heavily symbolic fog are not minimalized. The production design is much more elaborate in showing us traditional architecture than most such Japanese films. I'm sure some of the social and historical commentary just goes by a Western audience unfamiliar with particulars, but the themes of individuals caught up in social proscriptions who rebel and seek love, respect, peace and, most of all, control over their lives is universal and very involving.

Reviewed by winner55 9 / 10 / 10

The real last samurai.

Fans of the common chambara (swordfigfht) film will be disappointed - this is not an action film. Tartan films is making a mistake by loading its marketing of this film in America with hints that it might be. In fact, this film probably could better distributed by Criterion, since it is the equal of any of the Japanese dramas it handles. This is a real throwback to the grand tradition of Japanese film - Ozu, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi. Flawless cinematography, almost painful care for detail, strong back story, meditative commentary on political history, and a passionate cross-caste romance, much as that captured in the "Samurai" trilogy. Sensitive acting and elegant direction. a romantic soundtrack that never becomes overbearing. Really a film for the ages. This is the film most people should be watching instead of the Tom Cruise farce "The Last Samurai". Indeed, sympathetic viewing of this film will at least make clear why many of us were outraged at the Cruise film - this has all the thoughtful reflection on the social tensions of that era that "The Last Samurai" lacked. A fascinating demonstration that the Japanese well know their own history and need no reminders from Hollywood - and can depict that history with a sweep and vision easily as grand and as beautiful as anything Hollywood can produce.

Reviewed by joebloggscity 9 / 10 / 10

A cerebral tale of honour, duty and revenge in a time of change in feudal Japan

I've always enjoyed Asian movies as they seem to deal with emotional issues far better than we do in the West. This film is a great illustration of this, set in 19th Century Japan centring on a samurai called Katagiri with a strand of tales which cover restricted love, friendship, honour and killing. Duty and culture are the main issues for Katagari as he battles with them whilst they forbid him to live a happier life. The film though never treats these issues heavily but rather takes you on a journey for the viewer to understand the world they live in before making a rounded judgement. The beautiful rural setting for this film adds to the atmosphere, whilst the acting is understated but delightful befitting the reticent culture the main characters live within. Regardless of the title, there is actually no real battling at all until the end, and even then it is carefully controlled so as not to make this appeal to fans of sword fighting movies. If anything, the battle is only there as a side on to the rest of the movie whose themes are far more important. Overall, I would recommend this to everyone it is beautiful, interesting and a diversion from the usual fair we all watch on film and TV. You are unlikely to watch many other films as beautifully done as this one all year.

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