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The Hidden Blade [DVD] (2004)

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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  • The Hidden Blade [DVD] (2004)
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  • The Twilight Samurai [2004] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Masatoshi Nagase, Takako Matsu, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Tomoko Tabata
  • Directors: Yoji Yamada
  • Format: PAL, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled, Surround Sound
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 24 April 2006
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EHPOPA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,074 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Japanese period samurai drama. Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) is a samurai in 19th-century Japan who finds himself torn between the love he feels for a lowly farm girl and his fidelity to a dying tradition. Unable to marry the girl because of their differing social status, Munezo's conflict over his position comes to a head when he is ordered to kill a traitor - who turns out to be his oldest friend.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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As other reviewers have stated, the film does not introduce an original plot. However it tells it's story with quiet and dignified momentum, provoking your emotions without having to force the issue. You can sense Karagiri's (the hero)quiet and reserved courage simmering throughout.
The romantic story is also very slow and hushed, in keeping with the cultural expectations, and fortunately, the film has not let it's self down with a silly 'westernised' ending. Indeed, the absence of hollywood style sword fights and unsubtle messages is what makes this film (and others of its kind) so appealing. The viewer is expected to have some knowledge of the historic period, and this will certainly enrich your experience when watching this film.

Finally, for me the most intriguing aspect was to observe the way of life depicted in the film. The courtesy, the dedication to work and productivity, and of course that unbreakable code of honour. Whilst much of it is sadly no longer compatible with modern, western life, as the film ends you may find yourself wanting to just sit quietly for a few moments and simply take stock of your own life and how you conduct yourself.
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Other reviewers have correctly stated that there is a remarkable similarity between the plots of 'The Twilight Samurai' and 'The Hidden Blade'. Indeed the plots are so similar that a person who had seen both movies may feel compelled to accuse the director and the creative team in general of a certain artistic laziness. However you would be wise not to rush to judgement. The Twilight Samurai is about a low ranking 'Squire' who has chosen to lead a 'miserable' life as a lone father, rather than marry and have the help around the house and with the children that would give him a more dignified appearance. He's in love with a lady from a higher ranking family, who is also in love with him, but societal norms of the time prevent them from being together. This goes on until Seibei (the protagonist of TTS) is ordered by his clan to kill a renegade. He will be rewarded for this service by a higher stipend and rank, which would enable him and his beloved to be together. This is the single plot-line that runs through this film. and in the end this is in fact what happens.

'The Hidden Blade', is about a Samurai and a servant girl from a low ranking family who were once much higher ranking. The father of the main protagonist, Squire Kategiri, had to commit hari-kiri due to 'mistakes' he has made (in fact he had done nothing wrong) and the rank of his family was lowered as a result. The servant girl and Kategiri are in love but societal norms of the time prevent them being together. This goes on until Kategiri is ordered by his clan to kill a renegade, which he duly does, with the help of 'uncivilised' riflemen. The renegade is a close friend, and it turns out he was not a renegade in the true sense, but rules are rules.
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Format: DVD
With Yoji Yamada's The Hidden Blade, set in the early 1860s, the age of the samurai was passing; the age of moviedom's bastardization of the samurai was sometime in the future. The Hidden Blade is one of three movies Yamada made based on stories by Shuhei Fujisawa. They all deal with the end of the rigid social caste system of the Tokugawa era, the cracks and corruption in the samurai code, and the effects of this on some of those in the samurai class whom we come to know. These movies aren't flash and slash epics or just cheap entertainment. The films in many ways are quiet, even when there is violence. Sadness and difficult choices are pervasive. The films, in other words, are wonderful. For the record, the three films are The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei) (2002), The Hidden Blade (Kakushi Ken Oni no Tsume) (2004) and Love and Honor (Bushi no Ichibun) (2006).

The Hidden Blade is the story of Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase), a poor samurai who does his duty to his clan in a small village in the north of Japan. His father was forced to commit hari kiri unjustly, but the father submitted because obeying the lord was the core of his life. A friend of Katagiri's, Yaichiro Hazama, who earlier went to Edo, has been implicated in a treason plot against the shogun. Hazama is sent back to the village for imprisonment. At the same time, Katagiri's sister has married a good friend, his mother has died, and he has found a merchant husband for the family's maid, a young woman named Kie (Takako Matsu), the daughter of a farmer who had been trained in many skills by Katagiri's mother. We can tell there is affection and respect between the two, but the idea of marriage is never recognized because of the rigid separation of the four castes.
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Format: DVD
The Hidden Blade is a very similar film to The Twilight Samurai which was released two years earlier, borrowing not only the same storyline but also the movies technical crew. It is at its' heart a love story, set at a time of great social and political upheaval. And what a love story, you find yourself desperately rooting for the low level samurai Masatoshi Nagase to find happiness whilst trying to reconcile honour, individualism and duty. A beautiful tale with an eye for detail, Masatoshi struggles to maintain the old ways whilst trying to reconcile his love for his servant, a union strongly discouraged by the reigning samurai rules of the day. The film also has moments of character driven humour and comic scenes as the samurai are trained in western military marching and artillery usage. For those interested in Japanese swordmanship, the fight scenes are pure and for those who practice Iaido and Kendo, the moves are recognisable kata and refreshingly free of wire-work and CGI. A lovely, glorious film, highly recommended!
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