The Twilight Samurai review

Caution: The Twilight Samurai is not your standard swords-and-seppuku fight flick. It's something better: an elegaic family drama that more than deserved its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Iguchi Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada) is way low in the Samurai food-chain, his colleagues dismissively dubbing him the `Twilight Samurai' because he runs off each evening to look after his young daughters and senile old mother. To make matters much worse, his clan summon him to fight a deadly duel with a renegade Samurai warrior...

The 77th film (!) from veteran director Yoji Yamada is an understated affair, centred by a sad, soulful performance from Sanada (the bloke who kept beating up Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai). It takes the great themes of the Samurai genre but, unlike Ed Zwick's respectful, earnest epic, it plays with them: Sanada's weary warrior is not a lone wolf then, but a man with obligations and responsibilities. Well worth hunting out.

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