The year is 1702. Peace has settled over the squalor of Edo and the swords of the once mighty samurai have been sheathed across Japan. In an era when dogs are more esteemed than the colorful peasants that inhabit the slums, Soza, a young warrior better with books than blades, is on a quest to avenge his murdered father and restore honor to his family name. As the blood debt looms, sensitive Soza must decide - To kill or not to kill? Amidst growing love, shattered honor and the simple beauty of the cherry blossom Hana celebrates the joys of even the most difficult of lives.
Hana: The Tale of a Reluctant Samurai
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A young samurai named Soza (Junichi Okada) arrives in Edo with the intention of tracking down his father's killer. However, despite all his training and upbringing in the samurai ideals, Soza isn't much of a warrior. His skills as a swordsman is lacking and his tracking abilities are even worse. 3 years past, and he isn't any closer in finding his father's killer. He spends his time in the slum, surrounded by an array of neighbors that can barely make ends meet but for some reason they are happy with what they have. Soza meets a comely widow and has developed a liking to her. Soza begins to doubt the very ideals drilled into his brain. Here in the real world, these philosophies seem diluted and hollow as he witnesses his brother`s life become meaningless after he had taken over his father`s dojo. His family pressures him to complete his mission, as the deed would fetch them a hefty sum of money in these peaceful times.
Much like Yoji Yamada's "Samurai Trilogy", "Hana" takes a tone full of elegy. Chambara films tend to celebrate the samurai lifestyle but Hana subtlety casts it aside. It executes its storytelling with a lot of warmth, light-heartedness and cleverly dispersed bits of satire throughout.Read more ›
The things I liked best about this film were the sets, (think: Kurosawa's "Lower Depths," but in color) the music - interesting choices, especially when "the boys in the band," (a group of unlikely performers with a mission) get going, and the plot's meandering twists.
I'm not going into the plotline. That has been adequately dealt with by others. I bought this film knowing nothing about it, and enjoyed it thoroughly for not being primed to expect one thing or another.
Just buy it. You might not like it as much as I do, but then you can be a swell person and donate it to your local library, which undoubtably needs additions to its "foreign" film section.
As others have mentioned, there's very little action in this movie. Only two very short sequences, neither of which follows the classic samurai sword fight scenario. Instead, there's a great deal of comic dialog and situations.
It's a good film. Although somewhat long, the only place it really drags is during a rather long digression that focuses on a secondary character. I believe the director is trying to use the digression to show that the role of peasants in the era was not always as simple and lacking in tragedy as the rest of the film portrays, but it mainly serves to interrupt the main story and further slow the pacing.
Still, an entertaining film well worth watching.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"HANA" is presented in 16:9 and the picture quality tends to show some differences. Some that try to make the film look aged and then sometimes you get picture quality that is good. But for the most part, picture quality for the DVD is good. Cinematographer Yutaka Yamasaki is able to capture the beauty of Japan but also the grimy and dirty row houses and livelihood of the peasants in the area. The set design in making sure things look quite realistic was really impressive.
As for audio, the film is presented in Japanese 5.1 Surround Sound and English Stereo. For the Japanese audio, the film is primarily dialogue and music driven, so you can expect a lot of the film to be front and center channel driven while certain scenes such as a rain storms utilizing the surround channels. Dialogue is clear and understandable and I did. The English dub is included and I listened to a small part of it and for the most part, FUNimation Entertainment is known to hire good voice actors for their anime and for the most part utilize them for their live action films. Personally, I'm not very into English dubs of Asian cinema but it is offered for those who can not stand films with subtitles.
Subtitles are only in English.
"HANA: The Tale of the a Reluctant Samurai" comes with the following special features:
* Opening Day Stage Greetings - (3:15) The Director and cast is interviewed in front of an audience during the opening screening about the film.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hana (Hana yori mo naho). Life & Times Of Obsolete Samurai.
Rating = ***
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Producers: Nozomi Enoki et al. Read more
I bought this film because I was interested to to see more of the male lead, Junichi Okada. It's a quirky film, which develops the plot slowly, but by the end everything, and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Janeite in Iowa
We LOVE Kore-eda's work LOTS AND LOTS.
I would write more but I'm busy making mochi.
Not a Samurai movie, for those who want that. This is a very Japanese reflection on violence and compassion. This is post-Shogunate Japan, hence samurai no longer matter. Read morePublished 19 months ago by James
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