Slow-paced and subtle in presentation, The Twilight Samurai
captures a side of the famed samurai that is rarely seen. Set in a northeastern province (Shonai) of late nineteenth century Japan, the film tells the story of Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada)--a low-ranking, debt-ridden samurai who, after losing his wife to consumption, struggles to care for his two young daughters and senile mother. Emphasizing the conflicts between duty and family, and love and class rank, director Yoji Yamada has created a film that is deeply engaging on several levels: a classic tale of honor, love, and courage.
Winner of 12 Japanese Film Academy Awards, as well as an Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, The Twilight Samurailives up to its billing. But dont expect an action-packed, samurai-fighting film, or you will be sadly disappointed (there are only two modest fight scenes). --Joel Berman