Love and Honour (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 121 mins

The third in director Yoji Yamada's Samurai Trilogy is an enjoyable, well acted drama, with a superb climactic swordfight and a plot that seems to have been lifted straight out of Hollywood melodrama.

What's it all about?
Love and Honour is the third in a trilogy of (unrelated) samurai films by legendary director Yoji Yamada, following on from 2004's Twilight Samurai and 2005's Hidden Blade. Japanese film and TV star Takuya Kimura stars as Shinnojo Mimura, a low-ranked samurai whose chief duty is to serve as one of the Shogun's food tasters.

When Shinnojo contracts food poisoning from some incorrectly prepared shellfish, he awakens from a coma and discovers that he has gone blind. In desperation, Shinnojo's devoted wife Kayo (Rei Dan) turns to head town clerk Toya Shimada (Mitsugoro Bando) for help, but when Shinnojo discovers Shimada has taken advantage of Kayo, he feels he has no option but to challenge the clerk to a duel.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Takuya Kimura, whose blind acting skills are impressive, particularly during the scenes where he's trying to pretend he can still see. There's also strong support from Rei Dan and from Takashi Sasano as their loyal servant, Tokuhei, while Momoi Kaori has a brief but memorable role as Shinnojo's gossipy aunt Ine.

The script is extremely moving in places and the emotional finale recalls classic Hollywood melodramas such as An Affair to Remember. In addition, the film builds towards a terrific swordfight where you're genuinely afraid for the hero (though blind, Shinnojo is no Zatoichi).

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that it drags considerably in the middle section, though things pick up towards the end.

Worth seeing?
In short, Love and Honour is an enjoyable samurai drama that delivers both an impressive swordfight sequence (it's short, but worth the wait) and an emotionally engaging plot. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 25/09/2018 10:37

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