Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Jmovie review: Sword of Desperation/Hisshiken torisashi
Another movie based on another book by the same dude who wrote Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade, I think. If you have not watched the above mentioned too movies, I strongly recommend you do. If you have seen them and Hana no Ato didn't do much for you then don't expect too much from Sword of Desperation.
Sword of Desperation has all the elements that made Twilight Samurai and Hidden Blade so good. Our humble stoic hero Sanzaemon who is a widower and is faced with difficult choices. The dedicated heroine Rio, who is sweet and kind and in this movie happens to be Sanzaemon's niece. Of course to makes things more kosher, Rio was previously betrothed and her marriage annulled. Clan members and their political schemes. A secret move that we get to see at the end ala Hidden Blade. Finally, its a samurai movie with Toyokawa Etsushi and Ikewaki Chizuru, two of my favourite actors!
Watching Sword of Desperation, there is a sense that something is dragging this movie down. It dots the i's and cross the t's of everything I enjoy in samurai movies including plenty of build up and one great final battle but the movie felt it was plodding.
The only answer I can come up with is that it was lack of on screen chemistry and the Sanzaemon and Rio story felt tacked on instead of being central to the story. The central story was rather the politics of it all and Sanzaemon's role in it. The best things in Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade was not the fights at the end but rather the build up and what the main characters fought for. Sword of Desperation has those small moments including some back washing but it felt cold compared to Twilight Samurai's beautiful scene of Tomoe helps Seibei dress up.
I think in the end, there just weren't enough scenes between Sanzaemon and Rio. Even in the flashbacks there was hardly any interaction between them. Maybe Ikewaki Chizuru was too loli for Toyokawa Etsushi. Could Yamada Yoji directing have made a difference? Perhaps. His camera work is more close up and personal which the cinematography in Sword of Desperation is more distant. Doesn't change the fact that it is a disappointing movie. Its still watchable and has the ingredients to be great but just falls short of even being a good movie.