The Twilight Samurai

The Twilight Samurai

Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama; Starring: Rie Miyazawa, Hiroyuki Sanada, Nenji Kobayashi, Ren Osugi; Director: Yoji Yamada; Author: Yoji Yamada; Runtime (in minutes): 129; MPAA Rating: Unrated; Distributor: Empire Pictures

It’s wonderful to see a Japanese movie in which a samurai, for all his somber discipline and skill, is also a touching and complicated ordinary man. Seibei (Hiroyuki Sanada), the central figure in The Twilight Samurai, is an expert 19th-century warrior who lacks even a hint of bravado. Quiet and unkempt, with a wisp of beard that brings out the sadness in his eyes, he occupies the lowest rung of his clan and supports two daughters and a senile mother by working as a warehouse clerk. At times, he recalls no one so much as Dustin Hoffman in ”Kramer vs. Kramer,” yet when Seibei finally does unsheathe his sword, I can’t remember an action sequence that holds you in quite the same way, drawing deep excitement out of its hero’s fearless desire to live more than fight.

Originally posted April 29 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT

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