This film, directed by Yoji Yamada, is not the typical martial arts action movie. It is more a wonderful story that wants to show you that there is always something worth fighting for.
The main character Shinnojo played by Kimura Takuya, is a young Samurai who works as a food taster at the court of his lord. But his dream is to have his own dojo and teach anyone Kendo, no matter what social rank they are, even the son of his servant Tokuhei.
Kayo, Shinnojo?s wife, encourages him to follow his dream even if that means that both have to leave their secure life in the castle behind them. But as life continues, this dream fades away after Shinnojo tastes sashimi (which is made from shell fish) at the court. The fish was badly prepared which means it is poisonous and after a three day coma due to heavy fever, caused by the poison, he wakes up to find that he can no longer see.
And here the problems start. How can a blind Samurai serve his lord? How much is his life now worth since he can?t fight anymore? Everyone feels pity for him, which adds to Shinnojo?s frustration as he gets angrier with himself, and everyone around him.
Kayo, meanwhile, meets Toya Shimada, the chief duty officer of the castle, who offers her to help and invites her to come to his house whenever she is ready. After a meeting with Shinnojos family, Kayo is asked to accept Shimada?s offer to help. Kayo ends up being sexually abused by him, but instead of keeping away in future, she continues to meet him several times.
Shinnojo suspects that there is something going on with his wife and orders his servant Tokuhei to follow her and find out why she stays out so long. Tokuhei discovers her meeting with a high ranking person in a dubious location but he can?t tell his master, so instead informs Kayo that he had followed her. Kayo then tells her husband everything.
Shinnojo divorces her after she tries to explain that she did it for him and that it is his decision to take her life here and now. But he just sends her away. After this he finds out that Shimada didn?t speak up for him at the court but that it was the Lord?s decision to keep up the rice portion as an acknowledgement for his service.
Shinnojo is furious and wants to avenge his wife and let Shimada pay for his dishonourable act. So he meets up with his old Kendo master and learns how to fight blind. After he has renewed his sword fighting skills he challenges Shimada to a duel.
But I won?t tell you how its ends because it is up to you to find out!
Love and Honour is a delightful film that gives you a beautiful insight of the life of a Samurai in feudal Japan. It has its funny moments, is sad from time to time but never boring. The real gem is Shinnojo?s servant Tokuhei. He is my favourite character because of his interpersonal skills. He deals well with the changing mood of his master, is funny but also sensible when he has to be. A character you quite quickly fall in love with.
This movie is something you should have in your collection if you are a lover of Samurai stories. Its 121 minutes will tell you a stunning story with great characters and accurate costumes.
4 Stars out of 5 for this beautiful movie.