Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Shinsengumi Assassins of Honor|
Actors: Kinya Kitaoji, Keiju Kobayashi, Toshir˘ Mifune, Rentar˘ Mikuni
Director: Tadashi Sawashima
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
Assassins of Honor is another strong Toshiro MIFUNE samurai film. In this historical drama, set at the end of the Edo period (late 19c), Mifune stars as Isami KONDO an idealistic leader who organizes a single-minded group... more »
New Model Army
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 11/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The shinsengumi are unusual heroes. Not only did they lose their battle, which can sometimes be seen as honorable as in the case of the defenders of the Alamo, but they fought for the wrong side entirely. The group supported the military Shogun government against the efforts to restore Imperial rule which eventually led to the Meiji Restoration and the modernization of Japan. No doubt they would be little more than a footnote in history if they just weren't so darn cool. And of course the uniforms.
There are dozens of movies about the shinsengumi, but this is the only one starring Mifune Toshiro. Mifune slips easily into the role of leader Kondo Isami, a farmer-caste born warrior who rose through the ranks by his strength and skills. Recruiting amongst the ronin and non-samurai warriors, Kondo and his co-commander Hijikata Toshizo (Kobayashi Keiju, Battle of Okinawa) develop a stern code of rules that keeps the rough crowd in-line. Completely devoted to the samurai ideals, even though many of them are not samurai themselves, including leader Kondo, the shinsengumi wage a lost battle against the overwhelming forces of the Emperor. Even losing, however, they do it honor and without compromise, so that their deaths continue to ring through the ages.
This was director Sawashima Tadashi's last film, and he played it right for the heroic machismo. Although they do dwell somewhat on the outdated morality they are defending, showing off their cool uniforms and strict code there is no mistake who the heroes are in this conflict. Other films, like Taboo and When the Last Sword Is Drawn, delve deeper into the dubious morality of the conflict and the group, but not this one. Sawashima just plays it straight, and with the charismatic Mifune in the lead that is exactly the way to go. Sometimes it is alright to cheer on in film those you are secretly glad lost in real life.
As usual, Animeigo put together a great DVD for this classic flick. One of the most difficult parts to grasp about "Shinsengumi" is that it is a famous historical story, and the director doesn't feel the need to explain who each and every character is. It is like watching a Revolutionary war picture and having a "General Washington" appear. There is no need to explain that this is the future first president of the country; we all know that. Same thing here. Characters appear without explanation because they would be familiar to every Japanese person. Animeigo's unique "captioned subtitles" helps deal with this by popping up historical facts and character introductions. There is also a brief introduction to the history of the shinsengumi included as an extra feature."
Solid samurai film
Daniel Daley | reno, nv | 11/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i have an extensive collection of samurai films, as well as other toshiro films from other genre's. while this is not at the top of the list by any means, it is a solid film. toshiro is great as always and the story moved quickly and it moved well. worth a watch, especially for the fan of samurai films."
If you love samurai films you need to have this
Pressureworld | Atlanta, GA | 07/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If life is a series of choices Isami Kondo and the Shinsengumi made all the wrong ones.
The first thing that has to be understood while watching this film is The Emperor and the Shogun were at war because of the opening of Japan to the west 1863-1868 the old way of life represented the Shogun vs the future, which was the Emperor, who understood knowledge from the west was critical to japan's survival. It took unequal treaties from the west for eyes to open in a country were changes were slow.
This film is seen through the eyes of Isami Kondo (Mifune) a country dojo instructor who becomes one of the original Shinsengumi (farmers and ronin who fought to protect and secure the Shogunate) and later it's sole leader. The film shows the heart of these men and their dedication to protecting the Shogun at all cost even if it ment killing anyone who oppossed their beliefs. These men are brave, fighting armies and dying for the Shogun but as the Shogun's power diminishes, different fiefs' began abandoning the Shogunate and rallying behing the Emperor and it is becoming clear that the Shinsengumi is a lost cause yet Kondo strong in his belifs refuses to disband the Shinsengumi even after it becomes clear the samurai way of life is over. Kondo is a farmer turned warrior he is not an educated man he refuses to see the politics of the situation and pays a dear price for it. I love samurai films I have many Shinsengumi movies in my collection but this film puts a magnifying glass on the infamous warriors without romanizing the group. The movie clearly shows the outdated moral codes many in Japan continued to live by during this time. The whole country of Japan was stagnant while the world was changing and the Shinsengumi were slow to understand these changes. Im a fan of Kinji Misumi, in fact im a big fan of his movies, his film The Last Samurai is his swan song about the Shinsengumi and gets all the glory, while it is a good film, It's hard to clearly get a solid understanding of the Shinsengumi the way you could in this film, and it doesn't hurt to have one of world cinema's best Toshiro Mifune, who is fantastic as always. This is a must buy ladies and gentleman
For a brutal flipside of the Shinsengumi check out the Cruel Story it's officially unreleased but you can find the dvd on Ebay."
Entertaining and intriguing.
Low-Ranking Reviewer | US of A | 09/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this recently when it was on sale at amazon for a paltry $6 so i couldn't resist. It's another take on the Shinsengumi history, and while i'm not a Japanese history buff enough to know what's fact or fiction, it takes the entire subject matter seriously and tries to present a clear and vivid picture.
I'll let more knowledgeable fans of the subject matter dispute the film's historical merits. I just wanted to say this is a very compelling and watchable film filled with tragic moments and memorable scenes and characters. Well-paced and colorful, it also has quite a few small and large action sequences so if you enjoy that type of thing you will find it here. Good cinematography and performances, plus Toshiro Mifune as good as usual, top it all off.
Extras include program notes(info that go into detail about certain people/places/events from the film), the film's trailer, pic gallery, and a sub-title option that is basically liner notes on screen while you watch the film(had to turn this option off as i had to concentrate on the english subs of the dialogue). The program notes were very helpful as i read them before i watched the movie. In fact, i got so caught up with the film that i re-read them after the film was over. So, if you enjoy good movies this is definitely worth a watch. If you like samurai films or films about Japanese history, perhaps a purchase is warranted.
I'm glad i took a chance on it anyways. And as a point of reference, i've seen, recommend, and enjoyed these other samurai-related films: Shogun Assassin, Ran, Seven Samurai, Heaven & Earth, Yojimbo, Sword of Vengeance series, Sword of Doom(all-time favorite, not sure why though), Shogun's Samurai, Zatoichi films, Shogun's Ninja, Samurai Assassin, Sanjuro, Hidden Fortress, and to a lesser degree Incident at Blood Pass and Hanzo the Razor(least favorite).