Owen Gleiberman
April 29, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Twilight Samurai

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
129 minutes
Limited Release Date
04/23/04
performer
Rie Miyazawa, Nenji Kobayashi, Ren Osugi
director
Yoji Yamada
distributor
Empire Pictures
author
Yoji Yamada
genre
ActionAdventure, Drama

We gave it an A-

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.

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