Movie Review of 'Love and Honor' (Japan 2007)

Love and Honor (Bushi no ichibun)

Language - Japanese
Genre - Drama, Action, Romance
**ing -
Takuya Kimura, Rei Dan and Mitsugoro Bando
Release - 2004

Love and Honor (Bushi no ichibun) is the final act of Yoji Yamada's acclaimed Samurai trilogy, with the previous films being the Oscar nominated The Twilight Samurai and the equally brilliant The Hidden Blade. As with the previous two films, Love and Honor is also an adaptation from a short story by Shuhei Fujisawa and similarly portrays the trials and tribulations of a simple samurai and his family, and the ingrained Samurai code. Also similar to it's predecessors, it greatly impressed the Japanese Academy winning 13 nominations including best Film. But it only managed to win 3 awards.

Set in the EDO period, it's the story of Shinojo (Takuya Kimura), a bashful mid-level Samurai who leads a comfortable life with his beautiful and dutiful wife Kayo (Rei Dan) and a loyal old servant who's all too happy to be the butt of Shinojo's jokes. Shinojo despises his position as a food-taster for the 'lord' (to ensure that it's not poisoned) and dreams of starting a Kendo dojo where everyone would be taught based on their abilities, just like 'kimonos fit different people differently'. His dreams are shattered when he ends up food-tasting a toxic preperation, that causes him to go blind.

Though the movie starts in a lighter vein, it quickly transcends into a darker and more introspective film with the tragedy. Takuya Kimura and Rei Dan seem capable with their performance through these emotional scenes that capture the anger and frustration of Shinojo, and the resolute love and support of Kayo. For the first half, Love and Honor is really a drama about personal tragedy. The circumstances leads to a moral dilemma with Kayo compromising on her virtues, in hopes of ensuring livelihood for her husband. 

Though unforgiving on his wife, Shinojo gradually realizes the injustice done to Kayo and seeks to avenge her honor. Though the 'Samurai' genre is filled with the 'blind samurai' cliches, Yoji Yamda brilliantly captures the pain and anguish, as well as the Samurai code that endures despite physical handicaps. Keeping in tradition with the previous films, Love and Honor (Bushi no ichibun) also culminates with a sense of happiness, a feeling shared by me for these brilliantly crafted Samurai tales by Yoji Yamada which deserve their place among the best that the modern Samurai films have to offer.