17 November 2002 | jolgo13
Beauty among slaughter
The first entry in a series of master pieces. Based very strongly upon the manga series `Lone Wolf and Cub' is most likely the best film series derived from comics. And truly great films as well. One cannot base one story on a single comic. There are so many elements in each. There is a basic story, but often times there are mixed with others. Little things are thrown in as well. Normally it would make any less a film seem crammed or just forced in. But it is pulled off brilliantly.
This film, the first entry is largely a set up for the sequels but still brilliant, from its beautiful camera shots to the extremely gory ascetic fights. It tells the story of how the main character Ogami Itto was exiled from his royal position as the Shoguns decapitator. It flashes from past to present until the entire past story is told. The ending fight is a great climax.
The sword work although at times seems fake is brilliantly choreographed. The gore in the film is not overly done, but rather thrown in to give it an artistic feel, as if you're watching a moving painting. Often times one may think every scene could very well be a panting.
Some aspects of the plot may seem odd to most western audiences. The scene where Ogami gives his son a choice between a ball and a sword. Or rather life or death, may strike many people as cold. However one must understand bushido and know that the way of the samurai is life in death. Ask yourself what would be worse taking your son on a trip as you kill men beyond number, or giving somewhat of a choice.
This film is truly beautiful, and hold up today as not just one of the greatest samurai films ever made, but films period.