Whilst not a patch on the recent `Zatoichi' from Takeshi Kitano - which I thoroughly recommend - this is very entertaining hokum. Subverting the conventions of the Zatoichi films to an effective degree and becoming a welcome addition to the canon.
It is very pleasing to the eye with some extravagant scenery and set-ups and blistering battles. Although just under two hours, the film is paced well without a huge amount of scenes that feel superfluous to the plot.
The lead actress is convincing and acquits herself well in the battles, the actor playing Toma conveys his character to a very high standard as well. Some of the others are a bit ropey which is a shame as it jars against the beautiful camera work and quality of the rest of the cast.
It is certificated as a 15, so fans of the more hardcore samurai films may be a bit disappointed by the amount of claret that is spilt but the story should be enough to compensate.
Certainly, it was an entertaining way to kill a couple of hours.
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