“Sword of Desperation” (“Hisshiken torisashi”) portrays the life of Sanzaemon Kanemi (Toyokawa Etsushi), a highly skilled swordsman appointed as chief protector to his lord. While financial ranks are widely drawn the lord’s concubine Renko sways his decisions without constraint or conscience as her rather selfish wishes and intentions bring about frivolous spending, taxes raised beyond reason and cuts in budgets creating an ever increasing tension and uprising amongst the people. When opposition against the lord fueled by Renko leads to executions of the innocent who speak out not even a close kin of the lord is able to forge a change of heart in his recent government decisions. With concerns and struggles ever growing Sanzaemon assassinates Renko and expects immediately to be punished by beheading but instead learns of the lord’s wishes that he instead be sentenced to a year of house arrest. There, Sanzaemon’s niece Rio (Ikewaki Chizuru) while unsure of Sanzaemon’s intentions in killing Renko acts as care giver to Sanzaemon with an unconditional love for him.
The film beautifully and through thoughtful pace unfurls a tapestry of Sanzaemon’s life as seen through seamless transitions moving from present to past in a constant flow shining an ever growing light upon the reasoning and truth which has come to pass leading to the present. The flashbacks give the viewer a deeper understanding and engagement to the lead characters and their personal life situations with Rio in particular being endeared to alongside Sanzaemon and as the present day 1 years house arrest ends Sanzaemon yet again is met with a twist of fate as he is now ordered by his lord to return to his former position as chief protector with his complete financial standings also returned….lending to an inevitable deception, suspicion and ultimately betrayal~.
I can’t place enough emphasis upon the overall production, as sets, wardrobe, dialog and complete action sequences were shot meticulously throughout even as the natural beauty in Japan’s scenery provided an undeniable essence to each and every scene. Toyokawa Etsushi who’s long been a mainstay of the big screen is at his very best here and Ikewaki Chizuru will easily charm you in a most memorable and endearing role. “Hisshiken torisashi” is one of those films which leaves a most powerful impression upon you even long after you’ve watched…as this unforgettable story so masterfully told reveals itself~. And the title itself holds a means of both revelation as well as a deepened fate not readily seen. Not to be missed.
(Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes)
~“Hisshiken torisashi” (trailer)~
..and how amazingly unusual well awesome is that ear~wax cleaner thingy made especially for this film seen at the end of the trailer?? It made me chuckle a bit…would you like one too? =D