23 August 2018 | jrd_73
Improves on the First Film
This second Kyoshiro Nemuri film improves on the first film in several ways. The series is still finding its footing, but Sword Of Adventure stands out in a way that Chinese Jade did not.
First off the story is better. In this one, Nemuri befriends a financial counselor to the shogun. This well meaning old man is trying to help the poor during a time of hardship. The counselor wants to limit the profits the (rich) rice merchants can charge for their product. In addition, the old man has made an enemy out of one of the shogun's illegitimate daughters by suggesting that this high living princess should have her allowance cut. She (and the rich merchants) want the financial counselor dead. It is up to Nemuri to protect the old man, regardless of whether or not he wants Nemuri's protection.
I found this plotline interesting throughout. The shogun's daughter ("Princess Pig" Nemuri calls her) is the series's first villainess. In fact, the film features three tricky females, the princess, a pickpocket in the opening scene, and a woman trying to free her imprisoned Christian missionary husband by setting up Nemuri. This last one provides the film's emotional core since she likes Nemuri and does not really want to see him dead.
Oddly enough, this film probably has less action throughout than the first film did, but Sword of Adventure delivers at the end with an exciting many-against-Nemuri climax. Speaking of the ending, there is a wonderful coda after the battle. Nemuri must give bad news to a character. The two meet in a field at sunset. No dialogue is spoken, yet everything is revealed through a couple of looks. It is a powerful ending, that is the one thing I had remembered from my one viewing (without subtitles) twenty years ago.
Sword of Adventure is not up there with the best of chanbara cinema. The film is a little slow in spots, although the ending more than makes up for it. Also, the actor who is the financial counselor plays his role broadly at times. These are minor complaints considering that Sword of Adventure stands as the first film in the series that I can recommend to non-fans.