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The Hidden Blade (US Version) DVD Region 1

Matsu Takako (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor) | Nagase Masatoshi (Actor) | Ogata Ken (Actor)
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The Hidden Blade (US Version)
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All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.3 out of 10 (3)

YesAsia Editorial Description

From director Yamada Yoji (The Twilight Samurai) comes The Hidden Blade (a.k.a. Kakushi Ken Oni no Tsume), another loving depiction of the bygone days of samurai heroism. Nagase Masatoshi (Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl, Pistol Opera) stars as a samurai, whose adherence to his code of honor is tested by the forces around him. It is mid-nineteenth century Japan, and the way of the samurai is fading, as Western influences and corruption are slowly taking hold in Japan.

Samurai Katagiri Munezo (Nagase Masatoshi) rescues a woman (Matsu Takako) who's being abused in her married life, but as a silent romance blossoms between them, his corrupt superiors challenge his honor. When the clan orders Katagiri to kill a fellow samurai fallen to corruption, can this man of honor - who has never killed - complete his duty? Like in The Twilight Samurai, Yamada Yoji explores complex themes in his depiction of the simple, yet conflicted life of a man following the strictest moral code. Full of fascinating detail and sublime humanity, The Hidden Blade is a marvelously-realized film that represents the best of what current Japanese cinema has to offer.

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Technical Information

Product Title: The Hidden Blade (US Version) 隱劍鬼爪 (美國版) 隐剑鬼爪 (美国版) 隠し剣 鬼の爪 The Hidden Blade (US Version)
Artist Name(s): Matsu Takako (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor) | Nagase Masatoshi (Actor) | Ogata Ken (Actor) | Yoshioka Hidetaka (Actor) | Kobayashi Nenji (Actor) | Tanaka Min (Actor) | Takashima Reiko (Actor) 松隆子 (Actor) | 倍賞千惠子 (Actor) | 永瀨正敏 (Actor) | 緒形拳 (Actor) | 吉岡秀隆 (Actor) | 小林稔侍 (Actor) | 田中泯 (Actor) | 高島禮子 (Actor) 松隆子 (Actor) | 倍赏千惠子 (Actor) | 永濑正敏 (Actor) | 绪形拳 (Actor) | 吉冈秀隆 (Actor) | 小林稔侍 (Actor) | 田中泯 (Actor) | 高岛礼子 (Actor) 松たか子 (Actor) | 倍賞千恵子 (Actor) | 永瀬正敏 (Actor) | 緒形拳 (Actor) | 吉岡秀隆 (Actor) | 小林稔侍 (Actor) | 田中泯 (Actor) | 高島礼子 (Actor) 마츠 타카코 (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor) | Nagase Masatoshi (Actor) | Ogata Ken (Actor) | Yoshioka Hidetaka (Actor) | Kobayashi Nenji (Actor) | Tanaka Min (Actor) | Takashima Reiko (Actor)
Director: Yamada Yoji 山田洋次 山田洋次 山田洋次 Yamada Yoji
Release Date: 2006-08-08
UPC Code: 842498020203
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Sound Information: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Extended Surround(TM) / DTS-ES(TM)
Disc Format(s): DVD, DVD-9
Region Code: 1 - USA, Canada, U.S. Territories What is it?
Rating: R (MPAA)
Duration: 132 (mins)
Publisher: Tartan Video
Package Weight: 100 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1004451359

Product Information

* Screen Format: 1.85:1
* Sound Mix: DTS 5.1 ES, Dolby Digital 5.1
* DVD Type: DVD-9

Director: Yoji Yamada

During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan's fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan (Unasaka) to take an important position within the shogunate in far away Edo. Munezo has lived modestly with his mother and sister Shino after his father was forced into suicide after the failure of a bridge project. Kie, a farm girl serves them as a maid in their house. As time passes, Munezo's sister marries Samon, his mother dies, Kie is married into a merchant family, and he is required to learn western methods of warfare such as the use of artillery and firearms from an official sent from Edo. Learning that Kie is ill due to abuse, he rescues her from her husband's family. Although sharing mutual affection and respect, a marriage between Munezo and Kie is still impossible due to different castes, and when he, now a bachelor, is criticized for her serving in his house, Munezo sends her back to her father's farm. After being caught in a failed political intrigue, Yaichiro is sent home in disgrace and imprisoned in solitary confinement. After Yaichiro escapes, Munezo is ordered to prove his innocence from complicity by killing his old friend, and he seeks the help of his old teacher, the sword master Kansai Toda. Although Yaichiro had been the better swordsman when they studied together, Toda entrusted the secret of the "Hidden Blade" only to Munezo. Toda now teaches him a new technique to use as he prepares to face Yaichiro, who has taken hostages in a farm house.
Additional Information may be provided by the manufacturer, supplier, or a third party, and may be in its original language

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Hidden Blade (US Version)"

September 12, 2005

This professional review refers to Kakushi Ken Oni no Tsume (The Hidden Blade) (Normal Edition)(Japan Version - English Subtitles)
If The Twilight Samurai was meant in part to deconstruct the samurai film as a genre, then The Hidden Blade takes that attitude to the next level by introducing two elements not fully explored in the previous film – the idea that faithful samurai were forced to do the bidding of corrupt officials and the effect that Western firearms had on the samurai way of life. Whereas The Twilight Samurai innovatively focused its attention on the home life of a lowly, but noble samurai with a family to support, The Hidden Blade centers on a more traditional figure in the chambara film – the lone swordsman of samurai legend. However, this lone wolf isn't a ronin, but a faithful vassal, one who has never killed before and is about to come to a crossroads in his life, as he begins to wonder if the samurai way really is all that it's cracked up to be.

The film begins with two pals, Munezo Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) and Samon Shibada (Hidetaka Yoshioka), bidding farewell to Yaichiro Hazama (Yukiyoshi Osawa) as he heads to take an important post in Edo. Afterwards, they head to Munezo's home, which is occupied by his mother, his sister Shino (Tomoko Tabata), and the maid Kie (Takako Matsu). It seems that Kie grew up on a farm and is living with the Katagiri family until she learns enough about taking care of a household to find a good husband. Together, they eat, drink, and have a good time with one another. All in all, it seems like an idyllic sort of life.

Flash forward three years, and Samon has married Shino, Munezo's mother has passed away, and Kie has been married into a prestigious family. One day, the still single Munezo happens upon Kie while she is shopping and is shocked by her change in appearance. This chance meeting sets off a chain of events in which Munezo eventually finds out that Kie has been treated so poorly that she's on the brink of death, a fact which immediately compels him to rush to Kie's aid, command that divorce proceedings take effect against her no-good husband, and bring her back to his own house for safekeeping.

Over time, Kie is nursed back to health, and she returns to the role she occupied three years earlier, taking care of the house and Munezo in particular. However, this newfound happiness is threatened when Yaichiro is implicated in an internal clan conspiracy. This spells trouble for Munezo as both he and Yaichiro were students of Kansai Toda (Min Tanaka), master swordsman-turned-humble farmer. Although Yaichiro was the superior swordsman, Toda passed on the secret of "The Devil's Claw" to Munezo instead, a fact that has always eaten at Yaichiro. During the investigation, Munezo is asked by his superior to name names in connection with Yaichiro. Although Munezo has no knowledge of Yaichiro's dealings, he not only passes on answering the question, but goes one step further by telling that he feels it is dishonorable for a samurai to inform on others, an act which only infuriates his superiors, soon putting him a very awkward position politically.

Although the relationship between Kie and Munezo is blossoming, both have become the subject of vicious rumors that Munezo has taken her as his mistress. Since Munezo is aware that a samurai cannot marry someone of low caste, and is fearful that the gossip will negatively affect her prospects to remarry, he reluctantly sends her away to her parents' home, much to Kie's eternal disappointment. Things only get worse when Yaichiro escapes from jail and takes several unsuspecting innocents hostage. Hiding in their farmhouse, Yaichiro swears to kill each and every person who enters the hovel. Given a direct order by his superiors to kill Yaichiro, Munezo has no choice but to face his former classmate in a duel to the death. Will Munezo survive? And if he does, is there still hope for him and Kie? And what's to be done about Munezo's duplicitous superior?

Especially when viewed back-to-back, The Hidden Blade and The Twilight Samurai bear remarkable similarities to one another in terms of plot and character. In truth, the Kie/Munezo relationship is simply a repeat of the Tomoe/Seibei relationship from the first film, with issues of money and class standing still being of major importance. Munezo is given an order he can't refuse much as Seibei was, and they both must face their adversary in a confined space. And of course, the thought of impending death has both characters re-evaluating both their values and their lives in a wholly dramatic fashion. For viewers who don't mind getting a second helping of The Twilight Samurai in a different form, these repeats shouldn't be too distracting, perhaps even welcome.

But that isn't to say the film is merely a retread. Where The Hidden Blade primarily differs is in its extended exploration on how the age of the samurai is soon coming to an end, an issue suggested in The Twilight Samurai, but made explicit here with the intrusion of Western weaponry into the narrative. This feature of the plot comes to the surface in the final duel between Munezo and Yaichiro, a battle that harkens back to one of the climactic showdowns in the first Once Upon a Time in China film. In both movies Western technology ultimately inserts itself into what is meant to be a private duel of honor.

Whatever the film's merits, there's no doubt that some viewers may be put off by The Hidden Blade's more than passing resemblance to The Twilight Samurai. Even so, the movie's compelling romantic angle and occasional comic moments help matters considerably, as the film begins to take a shape of its own. Considering how great the first film was, it's still a shame that the new ideas included in The Hidden Blade simply couldn't have been developed earlier in The Twilight Samurai, particularly the climactic student against student duel (which trumps, at least in concept, Seibei's duel with a swordsman he doesn't know), the intrusion of western firearms (which helps punctuate the narrative's overarching theme), and the idea of a special hidden technique (when finally unleashed, "The Devil's Claw" proves to a surprisingly fatal move). Perhaps it's because of these very additions that Yamada was compelled to make The Hidden Blade in the first place – just to get them onscreen. Whatever the case, the film serves as a wonderfully satisfying companion piece to Yamada's award-winning 2002 film. The film's denouement recalls certain classic movie moments, not only among samurai films, but from some of the best cowboy films as well, a welcome bit of nostalgia within the film's less than flattering commentary on the feudal era. Although The Hidden Blade successfully dips back into the well once more, here's hoping that the third film in Yamada's proposed trilogy proves to be more innovative.

By Calvin McMillin

This original content has been created by or licensed to YesAsia.com, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of YesAsia.com.

Customer Review of "The Hidden Blade (US Version)"

Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 9 - 9.3 out of 10 (3)

Rhoda
See all my reviews


October 14, 2006

This customer review refers to The Hidden Blade (DTS Version) (Hong Kong Version)
1 people found this review helpful

Love the story Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
The story is about a well off family who has maid but later got married but was abused not only by the husband but also the whole family. We went to that family and took her with him. Quite touching...but the ending could have been better.
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Anonymous

May 12, 2005

This customer review refers to Kakushi Ken Oni no Tsume (The Hidden Blade) Special Edition (Limited Edition)(Japan Version - English Subtitles)
Japanese! Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
"Samurai"! This is what I like the most! I could find the real "Spirit of Samurai" in the story.
Throughout the story, I could feel the love and contracdictory position of the Samurai who was facing a new era.
By the way, Matsu Takako is very beautiful and attractive!
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Anonymous

May 2, 2005

This customer review refers to Kakushi Ken Oni no Tsume (The Hidden Blade) (Normal Edition)(Japan Version - English Subtitles)
Hidden Blade full of emotion Customer Review Rated Bad 10 - 10 out of 10
An absolute masterpiece of the life of a samurai this film tugs at your heartstrings and evokes a lot of emotion as the characters go about their daily lives and we see our hero always aware of one particular woman who lives just beyond his reach. Beautifully crafted! His decisions about Samurai life and the Samurai code are at the heart of this wonderful film beautifully expressed by the actors and their surroundings. Nature and the changing seasons is key to the enjoyment of this beautifully presented DVD, and the end is well worth the journey. With English subtitles too!
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