Mibu gishiden

Mibu gishiden

Director: Yojiro Takita

Cast: Kiichi Nakai, Koichi Sato, Miki Nakatani

     
 
When the Last Sword Is Drawn opens in Tokyo in 1899, when an elderly man, Saito (Koichi Sato), brings his young grandson to see a local doctor, Ono (Takehiro Murata). Saito notices an old photo of a samurai in the doctor's home and asks him about it. As it turns out, the photo is of Yoshimura (Kiichi Nakai of Warriors of Heaven and Earth), and both men

Overview

When the Last Sword Is Drawn opens in Tokyo in 1899, when an elderly man, Saito (Koichi Sato), brings his young grandson to see a local doctor, Ono (Takehiro Murata). Saito notices an old photo of a samurai in the doctor's home and asks him about it. As it turns out, the photo is of Yoshimura (Kiichi Nakai of Warriors of Heaven and Earth), and both men had a strong connection to him. Saito and Ono take turns reminiscing about their experiences, and the film flashes back 30 years to the tumultuous beginnings of the Meiji era, when the emperor, bent on modernization, consolidated his power, and the shogunate with its samurai was phased out. Saito remembers Yoshimura as a fellow member of the Shinsegumi, a samurai group divided between loyalty to its shogun and the defense of the emperor. Saito looked down on the money-grubbing, shabbily dressed Yoshimura from the moment they met, and even decided to kill him. But Yoshimura soon proved his prowess with the sword, and his commitment to samurai ideals. Ono remembers Yoshimura as the disgraced father of his best friend. Yoshimura abandoned his village and his clan during a famine to join the Shinsegumi, and as the story unfolds, his motives come to light. Caught in the middle between conflicting forces, their way of life rendered obsolete, Saito loses contact with Yoshimura during a bloody battle and assumes he is dead. Ono tells him of the misunderstood samurai's true fate. When the Last Sword Is Drawn, directed by Yojiro Takita, won several Japanese Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Actor (Nakai), Best Supporting Actor (Sato), and Best Picture. It was shown at Subway Cinema's 2004 New York Asian Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Yojiro Takita's When the Last Sword Is Drawn, like The Last Samurai and The Twilight Samurai, deals with the last days of feudal Japan and the consolidation of the emperor's power through the force of rifles and cannons. One of the film's strong points is the complexity of its lead character, Yoshimura (very well played by Kiichi Nakai), a modest sensei and expert swordsman who faces humiliation or worse because he seems like a mercenary motivated by greed, but his prime motivation turns out to be the survival of his family. Another strength is the film's depiction of the chaos and confusion of the time, where allegiances are so fragile and conflicted they can actually change in the midst of a single battle. After Yoshimura's Shinsegumi valiantly fight off a rival clan that is opposed to the emperor, the imperial troops demand their surrender. "Are we rebels now?" asks one distraught samurai. Sporadic moments like this eschew the romanticization of war and samurai notions of honor that otherwise mar the film. The film as a whole is well crafted with gorgeous camerawork from cinematographer Takeshi Hamada and an effective soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi (who has scored most of Hayao Miyazaki's work), and it's fairly moving but overlong. The framing story seems somewhat unnecessary, as Ono (Takehiro Murata) is a relatively minor character, and his chance meeting with Saito (Koichi Sato) seems contrived mainly to spur a glut of reminiscences. The film also falters in its overly sentimental and distended ending. But When the Last Sword Is Drawn is still a fine, engagingly complex evocation of the turbulent period.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/27/2005
UPC:
0720917547527
Original Release:
2002
Rating:
NR
Source:
Fox Lorber
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:17:00

Special Features

Anamorphic 1.85:1 presentation; Stereo; Subtitle control; Behind-the-scenes featurettes; Interviews; Trailer gallery

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- When the Last Sword Is Drawn
2. An Announcement [9:05]
3. A New Sword [9:56]
4. Letter from Home [11:27]
5. Death of a Comrade [9:46]
6. Farmer's Daughter [11:09]
7. Message to Hijikata [12:02]
8. Kanichiro Bids Farewell [11:32]
9. The Edge of Annihilation [11:28]
10. Absolutely Neutral [10:47]
11. Nanbu Rice [11:30]
12. Thank You [15:32]
13. End Credits [3:57]

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