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Sword of Desperation
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from N/A votes
Release: 10 Jul 2010 /

Sword of Desperation

Genre: Action, History
Director: Hideyuki Hirayama,
Stars: ,
Synopsis: A talented but troubled Edo Period swordsman, Kanemi Sanzawmon. Three years earlier, Kanemi killed a woman, Renko, the corrupt mistress of the powerful daimyo Tabu Ukyou. Unexpectedly, ...

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Critic Reviews

Hisshi Ken Torisashi is an excellently crafted samurai movie that shows much of how samurai lived in their days.

A local lord of a small clan, Ukyoudayu (Jun Murakami) was taken by the charm of his first mistress Renko (Megumi Seki), and allowed her to perform unspeakable act of cruelty to the members of his clan. Sanzaemon (Etsushi Toyokawa) is a low level samurai working for Ukyoudayu, but hearing of the atrocities performed by Renko he decides to assassinate her.

After an afternoon dance show at the lord's castle, he approaches her and stabs her in the chest killing her. In this he's committed two cardinal sin that samurai should never do. One is to draw a sword within the castle ground, and the other of course is to use it against the lord's mistress. He surrenders himself, and expects to be beheaded, but the verdict unexpectedly for him, turns out to be house arrest for one year, and a reduction of salary. A mere slap in the hand compared to the crime he's committed. But like a true samurai he locks himself up in a storage shed, boards up the windows, and spends a year in self imposed imprisonment with only contact to the world being his deceased wife's niece Rio (Chizuru Ikewaki) who brings him food.

After the year is up, Sanzaemon now a free man, is permitted to serve the lord again. Two years later, he is called by the elder of the clan Minbu Tsuda (Ittoku Kishibe), and is told that he's been promoted to the rank of his lord's head personal attendant, and his salary would be increased back to its former amount. Baffled, he asks Minbu why he would be promoted to such a position. Minbu's answers that the lord has regretted his past behavior. He's heard about the stoic ways Sanzaemon has performed his house arrest, and is pleased with his act. Lord believes that such material should not be wasted, and decided to use him in a more important role. In this conversation, Minbu asks Sanzaemon that he's heard Sanzaemon is a master swordsman, and his style has a secret tact called "Torizashi". Sanzaemon explains that when a man uses "Torizashi" it is when he is near dead.

Meanwhile, lord Ukyodayu's corrupt ways of running his clan is causing havoc amongst the farmers in his fiefdom. His step brother Hayatonojyo Obiya (Koji Kikkawa) has been critical of the way the clan was mismanaged since the days of lady Renko. His anger towards the lord was mounting. Minbu had a plan to use Sanzaemon's swords skill against Obiya who is also known for his skills. Sanzaemon unaware, is trying to match make Rio with clan's younger samurai. Rio is divorced ( a situation very rare at the time, and carried certain amount of shame and guilt) but Sanzaemon wishes her to have a new start. Rio refuses, but Sanzaemon tells her "Woman's happiness is in marriage.", in reply, Rio answers "I've been married but was not happy. I wish to stay here and to serve you.". Rio was actually secretly in love with Sanzaemon.

One rainy day, Obiya storms into the castle alone. Sanzaemon sensing danger, tells the lord to flee, and he goes to face Obiya who is coming with his hands on the sword. Minbu's plot to use Sanzaemon against Obiya and put the blame of his death on Sanzaemon claiming he went insane and killed Obiya (thus saving clan's face from admitting internal strife had happened), is about to hatch - but with unexpected result for Minbu.

The title "Torizashi" comes from a move Sanzaemon used to catch a bird with long stick with sticky rice at its tip (traditional way birds were caught in Japan). You will see the connection at the end of the movie.

This movie is based on writer Shuhei Fujisawa's short novel which was part of his "Hidden Sword" series that includes "Kakushiken Onino Tsume", and "Bushi no ichibun" (both were made into recent movies), is an excellent samurai drama that shows the way of samurai (Bushido), and frequently corrupt politics of the clan. The sword fighting scenes are some of the best (as it is with the other two novels that were made into movies), and comes closest to the ones done in the golden age of samurai movies.

It's an explosive story with unexpected twist at every turn, and it is highly recommended for viewing..

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