Kayo (Rei Dan) stands by her husband (Takuya Kimura) after he goes blind, in the last of director Yoji Yamada's trilogy of films.
Samurai film is cutting edge but contains little swordplay
"Love and Honor"
Gala presentation at the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, 7 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Dole Cannery multiplex
Yoji Yamada's samurai films have little to do with swashbuckle and everything to do with character and human relationships. He's done three: "Twilight Samurai," "Hidden Blade" and now "Love and Honor." All have screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Consider them a trilogy, but not in the sense that they continue a story with the same major players. Each is self-contained, with themes of staid samurai honor and quiet romantic love.
What's best about them is how they portray everyday samurai life. Because every day does not bring battle, and not every samurai is rich, these guys have to earn a regular living.
In "Love and Honor," Shinnojo's assigned job is food taster for the lord. He sits in a room, shoulder to shoulder with four other guys; each is served a portion of the master's meal. They taste, they chew, they swallow. "Any ill effects, gentlemen?" their supervisor asks. If no one collapses, the food passes on to the lord.
Well, one day, Shinnojo (Takuya Kimura) does collapse (bad seafood). He escapes death but emerges blind. Now the household's living is threatened. His devoted wife (Rei Dan) does what she believes she must to save them (this involves a snarky upper-caste samurai), and when Shinnojo finds out -- well, honor must apply.
One short sword fight is all the action this film contains, and all it needs. "Love and Honor" makes its points with an intelligent examination of the samurai code -- and the precepts of honor.