This is really difficult, as a film I would give this five stars without question. It is sort of remake of Seven Samurai, a group of unemployed samurai at the end of an era are gathered together, there is the wise old experienced head of the leader, the enigmatic master swordsman, the novice, the village idiot who tags along and saves the day (why are all peasants in Japanese films continually scratching?) and the village made into a killing zone. All sounds familiar. The difference is that this time it is not bandits but a young prince who longs for the days of war and views bloodshed as excitement which has left him slightly derranged and the authorities take it upon themselves to dispose of him. This is shorter (thankfully) than 7 Samurai, taughter plot, equally as poigniant and very well acted. If you like big battle scenes then this is for you, the blood splatter count at the end is off the scale.
Amazon's customer service is also five star, and they have sought to correct the problem very quickly, however, the three star rating persists and it is because of the following:
Two DVD's of this film have now been sent to me and both suffer the same problem, inconsistent subtitles that do not seem to be synched to the film. What happens is acres and acres of Japanese dialogue with no subtitles and then all of a sudden up will pop a susbtitle saying "irreversible" or " his son is". There seems to be a bad batch of this film. My forst viewing was a Love film rental, that was fine, I have also seen it on Sky Movies no problem but seem to be having difficulty getting hold of a fully working item.
So, if you like martial arts/samurai films, this is a must but beware of the quality of the DVD you purchase