The Twilight Samurai

When I was doing research for my book, I'd read books on Vikings, Native American Indians and Samurais. There was also a lifetime of Chinese period soap operas lurking in my head that made its way on paper. My brother pointed out a common theme that I used without knowing it in my episodes.

Then I ventured down to individuals such as Miyamoto Musashi, Geronimo, and Ibn Fadlan.  I've also used Sun Tzu's Art of War and Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War.  I then obsessed over movies such as Braveheart, the events at the Battle for Thermopile and the History Channel.

The Samurai culture has always interested me.  In my research there was a movie I came across called The Twilight Samurai.  I immediately fell in love with it.  So much so that I bought a copy of it.  Not download it!  Bought.  It stars Hiroyuki Sanada.  If you've seen Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, then you've seen Sanada.  He was the one who taught Cruise's character how to sword fight.

Twilight won a dozen Japanese awards and was nominated best foreign language film in the 2002 Academy Awards.

Despite the fact that Sanada plays a low ranking Samurai, I fell in love with the character.  The character is widowed, humble to a fault, works a low paying job, loves raising his two daughters, one of the best Samurais, cares nothing for advancement, and dreams of working on his own farm.  Empathy techniques at work?

The romance in the movie works so well, tons of chemistry, and no sex scenes.  I like sex scenes, don't get me wrong, like in a porno.  But it seems a lot of movies use sex to get the movie goer to come--ahem--instead of using it as a tool to forward the romantic story.

Take The Matrix as an example.  Look at the special effects, which the movie required.  Most of it, if not all, wasn't terribly advanced or over done for it's time.  Special effects was used as a tool to forward the plot, never used to get the movie goer to come.

One thing that really caught me about Twilight is there seems to be no real antagonist.  Where's Darth Samurai?  Then it occurred to me.  The antagonist was society.  The hero struggles with money, raising his daughters, living with his senile mother and the disrespect the other Samurai.  He's constantly badgered to remarry, to advance, to succumb to everyday standards.

His response?

"I'm too cool for ya'll."

Not really.  But he does resist it all.  Then comes his childhood love.  She is the monkey wrench to his well oiled machine.  From there, the story develops well, the romance progresses with all its angst, using the sign of the times to present obstacles, and there's enough action to help the story along.  Though the sword fighting is not central to the movie.

If you like Samurai movies, rent this.  You'll love it.