The Hidden Blade Reviews
[font=Century Gothic]Three years later, Munezo, still not married, comes across Kie in a shop and finds that the intervening years have not been kind to her after she married a merchant and is now often ill. A few months pass, and Munezo has learned that Kie has still not recovered and is, in fact, treated badly at her house. This time, he decides to take matters into his own hands...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Hidden Blade" is not a bad movie but it is too similar to Yoji Yamada's own superior "Twilight Samurai" to be considered much of a success on its own. This movie is simply not as engrossing as the previous film as it is very slow and predictable. However, there is some thought given to the conflict between Western influences(the training with artillery and new guns) and the tradition of the samurai. [/font]
Throughout the film, there a several examples of classic Ozu films.
In the The Hidden Blade, Katagiri is getting older and is not married. Likewise in Ozu's Early Summer, Hara Setsuko, plays a woman past 25 who hasn't married either. Katagiri becomes a lot like Hara Setsuko's character in that both are stubborn and will get married when they want to and if they want to. Katagiri also shares common charateristics with the father figure of Ryu Chishu's various characters in Ozu films. Some of the dialouge between Katagiri and his servant Kie reminded me of similar scenes from Tokyo Story, when Ryu and his wife are talking.
What I like about this film, is the way inwhich, Yamada humanizes his samurai characters through anecdote. There is a very moving and funny scene of a little girl who is afraid of Katagiri because he carries a sword. Katagiri cannot understand why this girl is afraid and when Kie tells him, he laughs and points out that most of the time samurai never draw their swords. The life of the bureaucract. There are other comedic episodes until the plot has to become serious. That's when the best dramatic scenes come out.
The Hidden Blade is a complex story that requires you to bring you full attention to it. The closer you follow the story, the more you will see and understand. Like any great work of literature, you have to be willing to be in the work and invest your complete attention.
Overall, this is a great film that showcases Yamada Yoji as the best new Japanese director, along with my other favorite, Koreeda Hirokazu.