Humble footsoldier Kanichiro Yoshimura (Kîchi Nakai) wields the most lethal blade in the Shinsengumi, a band of Samurai whose loyalties are torn during a civil conflict in 19th-century Japan. He's also a "moneygrubber", renowned for accepting lowly tasks and hoarding the lucre. Hardly behaviour becoming of a Samurai, then, and fellow swordsman Hajime Saito (Koichi Sato) regards him as a pathetic specimen...
Unfolding in lengthy flashbacks and paced like a funeral procession, Yojiro Takita's handsome-looking but dull epic numbs both arse and mind. At its heart flutters a subversive story about a Samurai who puts family over honour, while the tradition-versus-modernisation Meiji-era backdrop is The Last Samurai revisited. Odd bursts of action and emotion flare through the torpor, but it's hard to be forgiving of a film with more endings than The Return Of The King.