Shinnojo, a low level samurai, lives with his pretty, dutiful and loyal wife Kayo. He has come to find his position in a castle as a food-taster for a feudal lord to be boring and pointless, and talks about opening a kendo school open to boys of all castes where he can teach the use of the sword. Before he can act on his dream he becomes ill with a fever after tasting some sashimi made from shell fish, but an investigation reveals that the poisoning was not due to a human conspiracy, but a poor choice of food out of season. After three days he awakes but finds that the toxin from the food has blinded him. Kayo is summoned by Shinnojo's family to explain how the couple will survive. His uncle laments that he no longer knows anybody with influence in the castle, and asks Kayo if she knows of anybody. She relates how Toya Shimada, the chief duty officer in the castle and a samurai of high rank, offered to help and they tell her to act upon his offer of assistance. A message from the castle brings the good news that Shinnojo's stipend of rice will remain the same, and for life but his aunt tells him that Kayo was seen with another man. He has Tokuhei, his faithful servant, follow her. Kayo notices that she is being followed, and although Tokuhei offers to cover for her, she reveals to Shinnojo that Shimada offered to help but with a price, shown when he forced himself upon her. He then solicited three additional trysts by threatening to tell Shinnojo about the first. An enraged Shinnojo divorces her and orders her out of his house. When it is revealed to him that Shimada had nothing to do with maintaining his stipend, but that it came out of gratitude from the lord of the clan himself, Shinnojo seeks to renew his skill with the sword as a blind man to avenge the dishonor of Kayo. Through Tokuhei, he sends a message to Shimada to set up a duel, with the additional message to not underestimate him. The two samurai meet at the stables near the river to decide their destinies. In the subsequent fight Shinnojo cuts off Shimada's arm. He leaves Shimada to live a horribly disfigured life, telling Tokuhei that he has now avenged Kayo's dishonor. The next day Shinnojo is informed that the injured Shimada refused to tell anyone what had happened or who injured him in the duel. That night Shimada committed seppuku and killed himself, as a samurai cannot live with only one arm. He dies without anyone knowing of his sin against the Mimura family, his violation of Kayo, or his own dishonorable injury by a blinded man. Tokuhei tells Shinnojo he has found a girl to work in the kitchen and cook for him. After one taste of the girl's food, Shinnojo recognizes his wife's cooking, and calls Kayo to come into the house. Shinnojo and Kayo reconcile, with an understanding that they will begin their life together anew.
- Kimura Takuya - Mimura Shinnojo
- Rei Dan - Mimura Kayo
- Sasano Takashi - Tokuhei
- Nenji Kobayashi - Higuchi Sakunosuke
- Ogata Ken - Kibe Magohachiro
- Momoi Kaori - Hatano Ine
- BandÅï¿½ MitsugorÅï¿½ X - Shimada Toya
A Nutshell Review: Love and Honor
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
14 April 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Love and Honor is the concluding chapter to director Yoji Yamada's loose samurai trilogy. Personally, I have enjoyed the other two, Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade, because they are extremely well made, and have important stories to tell, rather than focusing its energies onto huge action sets with plenty of sword wielding, and Love and Honor is no different.
Shinnojo Mimura (Takuya Kimura) is a lowly Japanese samurai, who's employed by his clan as a food taster. It's a dead end job with zero job satisfaction, and Shinnojo reveals in a conversation with his wife Kayo (Rei Dan) that he dreams of opening up a kendo dojo of his own, and recruiting students to teach regardless of their caste. It's a noble dream, but one that is cut short when he gets blinded during one of the food tasting sessions, eating sashimi made from fish which is poisonous when out of season.
Like its title suggests, Love and Honor is an intense love story based on those two themes. With Shinnojo handicapped, fears are abound within the family that without a job, they will lose their status and material wealth. And Shinnojo's growing negative attitude toward life doesn't help either. Stress befalls Kayo, and on the ill advice of her aunt, she seeks to find a powerful samurai Shimada (Mitsugoro Bando) to help them out of their plight.
No man enjoys his wife having to bring home the bacon on his behalf, especially not when it involves favours with another man who's vastly superior, not in feudal Japan. It's an interesting character study into the 3 characters, of love, defending of honor, envy, jealousy. And it all comes to an end in what I thought was a very touching finale. As mentioned, don't anticipate any sword fighting action to be a huge spectacle. Rather, the one here seemed to be rather rooted with realism. When it boiled down to the sword, every slash, parry, thrust seemed made with measurable consideration, with forceful purpose. Given Shinnojo's blindness, don't expect Zaitochi styled super-samurai feats, and in fact, Shinnojo's struggles are more to do with things from within.
Takuya Kimura, whom I last seen in 2046, has aged for this role. He looked mature and pretty much left his pretty boy days quite far behind to bring certain gravitas to his character. Rei Dan in a debut is on par with the recognizable female leads in the previous trilogy movies, and is excellent too in her role as like the other female characters, and a memorable one too. And not all's bleak in the movie, with Takashi Sasano's servant character Tokuhei bringing about some light hearted moments with his earnestness and wit.
Samurai movies have been possibly enriched by Yoji Yamada's trilogy contribution, and Love and Honor triumphs slightly over its predecessors to bring the series into a fitting close. Recommended!
Better not to know?
Author: matchettja from Japan
9 April 2008
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Do we need to know everything? Would our lives be better if there were certain things we didn't know? These are matters addressed in this story of a samurai family and life in feudal Japan. It was the duty of certain lower level samurai to taste the food before serving it to the lord of the clan in case it might be poisoned. When Shinnojo Mimura, one of the food tasters, eats some tainted sashimi of an off-season shellfish, he falls ill. After a period of unconsciousness, he awakes to find that he is unable to see. At first, he tries to hide the fact from his deeply loyal wife, Kayo, for fear of worrying her. When she understands that, she protests that she is his wife and it is her duty to worry for her husband. However, when she learns from the doctor, who has withheld the truth from his patient, that this blindness is permanent, she also avoids telling her husband, in order to spare his feelings. There are certain truths that are better for us not to confront. Gossip, however, is another matter. When Mimura's busybody aunt comes with news that Kayo has been seen in the company of another man, he throws the aunt out of the house, but he is left with doubts. Is such a thing true about his loving wife? Mimura decides it is something he must know, regardless of consequences, so he sends his servant to follow her and report back to him. The rest of the film deals with what must be done in order to restore honor. It is a fascinating look at life, duty and honor during the samurai era and well worth watching. Takuya Kimura (Mimura), Rei Dan (Kayo) and Takashi Sasano, the loyal but sometimes confounded servant, all give memorable performances.
Touching Samurai Story
Author: Heat6Jones from United States
26 June 2008
Yoji Yamada's appropriately dubbed 'Love and Honor' is a samurai's story of just that; Takuya Kimura is Mimura, a samurai who is used to test food for poisoning by eating it in order to prevent the lord of his clan from being poisoned. Mimura becomes blind after being fed an off-season food that can become poisonous if not prepared properly. Unable to provide for himself, Mimura becomes suicidal. His loving wife Kayo declares her support for him, offering to follow him into death. Mimura is convinced to continue on living, but with Mimura unable to provide for he and his family, his wife is left to find a way to support them. In this classic tale of love and honor, follow a blind man's struggles to find peace of mind as he tries to follow his samurai code.
the suffering of a good man
Author: CountZero313 from Japan
5 February 2012
A low-ranking samurai, jaded with his dull daily routine, finds himself tested to the core when his food-tasting assignment leaves him blind.
Yoji Yamada's project exploring samurai in transition expands, having had an outing in Twilight Samurai. That movie had Hiroyuki Sanada in the starring role, and the constantly under-achieving Takuya Kimura was always going to be a hard sell in this role for some. However, he stands up competently here. Shinnojo wakens blind and immediately becomes suicidal. He is granted a healthy stipend of rice from the authorities, and the slow dawning of its true price inexorably works on Shinnojo, eventually becoming too much to bear. This delicately paced transition is plotted by Kimura's expressions, from self-loathing to acceptance to vengeful warrior, with loving husband always present.
Kaori Momoi parades her usual quirky genius, but Rei Dan as loving, loyal wife Kayo is the stand-out performance here. Kayo's burden proves equal to her husband's, and Dan earns our sympathy as the compromised spouse.
The film doesn't quite achieve the delicacy and pathos of Twilight Samurai, but it does add another dimension to the humanistic portrayal of the samurai that is Yamada's trope. For that reason alone, Love and Honour is worth checking out.
A different "different samurai story"Author: Harry T. Yung (email@example.com) from Hong Kong
28 March 2007
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When YAMADA Yoji set out to make his "samurai trilogy", he was very clear in his mind what he wanted to do. "Twilight samurai" (2002) and "The hidden blade" (2004) both offer an image of samurais unlike what we are used to – proud, cool, fierce. It's not that these qualities are not found in Yamada's samurais, but such qualities are overshadowed by the consciousness of a demeaning class system and a very human concern for daily livelihood, mundane but necessary. "Love and honour" carries on with the same theme, but with a slight variation in key, so to speak.
The protagonist in L&H is a young samurai (played by pop and TV superstar KIMURA Yakuya, whose name I'll use here for convenience) of reasonably respected rank. Losing his father when he was quite young, he was fortunate enough to receive a good education. At the beginning of the story, therefore, he is not a victim of the predicaments of poverty or class prejudice we saw in the previous two of the trilogy. While not spectacular, life is stable and comfortable for Kimura and his beautiful wife, served by a loyal old servant that is not unlike "Alfred" ("Batman begins"), but of a comical kind.
The "day in the office" for a samurai is dull when there is no war, as is the case during our story, and what excitement there is comes with a special duty for some of the samurais – food testing for their feudal lord, as a security procedure against poison. The story really begins at the occurrence of a rare incident, when Kimura is blinded by poison that has accidentally found its way into the food he is testing.
Here's when we are back to the convergence of the common theme. All of a sudden, Kimura feels like he is plunging into a dark abyss (both literally and figuratively), with thoughts that had never ever occurred to him before, such as whether he now has to make his livelihood as a beggar, all these despite the fact that he has a most loving and devoted wife. This becomes quite ironic when the wife, desperate for the mercy of the feudal lord in recognizing Kimura's service and keeping him on the payroll despite the fact that he is now blind, yields to the sexual advancement of the samurai superintend in exchange for the latter's promise to put in a good word for her husband. To cut a long story short, things come to a head with Kimura's discovery of his wife's well intended but ill advised action, culminating in a climactic duel with the villain.
This is quite a simple story but the movie excels in its telling. There is the characteristic attention to details in Japanese, and furthermore in Yamads's movies. The reaction of this young (perhaps even a little spoilt) samurai to the devastating calamity is well depicted. But the otherwise gloomy narration is brightened, and lightened, at suitable point by humour (some of which sarcastic), provided chiefly by the faithful old servant and a nosy aunt who pops up from time to time. But the important thing is that the movie does not lose sight of the main theme. It is after learning the generosity of the feudal lord in granting status quo despite his disability that Kimura finds back his sense of humour. He is now able to laugh at himself for banging his head against a pole, quipping "I think he really wants to kill me", with reference to an earlier joke he made with the old servant.
Nor are dialogue and facial expression the only elements of excellence in this movie. Check out the comical scene of the nosy aunt's hurried exit with her two kids after Kimura had indicated in no uncertain terms that she had out-stayed her welcome. The body movement of the characters in question is more eloquent than the most hilarious dialogue. Watch also, at the scene when Kimura seeks instruction from his teacher, how, with constantly shifting and balancing movements with his toes and the balls of his feet, he is ready to pounce in a split-second upon the imagined opponent when he senses (remember that he cannot see) an opening. Just two of the ample proofs that every scene in this movie has been afforded the utmost attention by director Yamada.