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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Drama > Samurai > Japan > The Hidden Blade (2004/Palisades Tartan Blu-ray + DVD)

The Hidden Blade (2004/Palisades Tartan Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B-/C     Sound: B/B-     Extras: B     Film: B+



Munezo Katagari is an honorable samurai, and a samurai must up hold the samurai code and honor, but when it comes to friends, rivals and revolutions where does a samurai's loyalty stand?  By his lord or by his friends?  While new and western (modern) ideas have challenged the traditional values, the lords fear these ideas of change, symbolic of challenging their rule.  While a lord may have a samurai's loyalty, but a samurai's heart and spirit is his own.


Though his family has fallen over the years, he still sticks to his moral center, protects the weak, his friends and those he cares about, but samurai should never rise above his caste nor can associate with those below it, including his childhood friend and love, Kie.  When a coup d'état fails and his friend/brother samurai on the opposite losing end, his loyal is cleared defined to his lord and a samurai's only honorable death is found only in battle or hari-kari (seppuku), but when a lord is not honorable a samurai's code must decide if his lord is even worthy of his service, if not, a samurai has a duty to rid of a dishonorable ruler, even if it IS his own lord.  


Whether you like samurai characters or not, this is not a bad film.  A samurai is like a western knight (for those not in the know), they serve a lord and have a code and honor to protect, but like all rulers and government, there are a lot of rules and red tape, while a samurai is trained for battle they must never lust for it, and while there is peace it doesn't always mean there is fairness.  When a lord breaks his word, he is no longer above the law nor worthy of rule.


Shot on 35mm Fuji film eight years ago, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition Blu-ray picture looks if not great, but has some nice shots, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD is much weaker.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is good for its age and is warm and rich throughout, while the DVD’s lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 could be better and cannot compete with the DTS.  Extras include behind the scenes footage, a director’s press conference, and trailers.



-   Ricky Chiang


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