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The black-robed Shinsengumi are a pro-shogunate, pro-isolationist police force, a kind of elite squad fighting against pro-imperialist forces in Kyoto. They are led by Commander Kondo Isami and Captain Hijikata Toshizo.
The story revolves around Sozaburo Kano, one of two new recruits whose fighting skills impress the two leaders. Kano seems very able even in his first assignment, the execution of someone who broke the Shinsengumi code of borrowing money, dispatching the offender in the traditional way. Yet his effeminate looks and his hair, still in a long pony-tail as opposed to the short-cut adult style, arouse desires in certain officers in the police force, such as his fellow recruit Hyozo Tashiro and threatens the stability of the Shinsengumi. While Kano denies that he is someone's lover, he seems to enjoy the attention he gets from the others. Hijikata seems to think Kano and Toshiro were lovers. He has a dojo bout against Kano, who stands up well, and against Tashiro, who is "one notch lower than Kano." Yet when Kano and Tashiro fight, the former does not fight as well. This inconsistency leads the captain to that conclusion in answer to rumours asking who Kano has taken up with.
One repeated line has the motif of "Does he lean that way" or "I didn't know he leant that way" in regards to officers suspected of desiring Kano.Read more ›
It's Kyoto in 1865. The old social and economic order imposed on Japan by the Tokugawa shogunate is slowly atrophying. The Shunsen-gumi is an elite samurai unit, one of several, whose job it is to maintain order for the shogun. Recruitment has been difficult, and now candidates are accepted, after rigorous trials, from the merchant class. The troop is ruled by rigid hierarchy, a code of conduct which is unforgiving and a demand for loyalty which cannot be questioned. The troop's captain is Toshizo Hijikata (Beat Takeshi); his lieutenant is Soji Okita (Shinji Takeda).
Sozaburo Kano (Ryuhei Matsuda) is the 18-year-old son of a wealthy merchant whose family at one time had been samurai. He proves to be an outstanding candidate in sword combat and is accepted, along with one other, Hyozo Tashiro (Tadanobu Asano). Kano is, no other word will do, beautiful, with a pale, oval face, limpid eyes and full, cupid lips. He is not effeminate, but he is a feminine dream some men will lust for. He also is without apparent emotion. He perhaps is aware of the effect he has, and he is passive in the face of the sexual tension he creates. Passion among men in the military is as old, or older, as the Egyptian charioteers, the Greek hoplites, down to modern armies. The samurai accepted this as a fact of life, something without consequence as long as discipline, order and duty prevail.Read more ›
The first scene of the movie is a Kendo sparring match. Kendo is the Japanese art of swordfighting. Never have I come across such perfect, delightful Kendo demonstrations in a film. Watching the actors use their swords is almost like watching Monét paint in his garden. You always wanted to see it, and there it is, just as sleek and smoothe as you can imagine. The Kendo scenes are very inspiring, and truly remarkable.
Throughout the film, there is a perfect balance of every event. Nothing is dwelled upon, and everything comes in the right amount. Every single image and scene is sharp, crisp, and refreshing. The camerawork is flawless, almost as if we see what exactly what we want to see, like in a vivid dream filled with delight.
Anyone who likes foreign films should watch Taboo. It's quite an amazing film, and I have to say extremely well-done.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gay themed yet true Japanese sword movie...sadly I can't spell the proper term. I have watched the movie half a dozen times to date.Published 21 months ago by John W Spehar
Had seen this about 10 years ago. Was a little more taken aback then. Didn't remember it as being as straight (poor choice of words) forward as it is. Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by Elton W. Spaulding
a story of old japan and it's culture... and sometimes culture they're not always ready to handle. shot beautifully and told through the eyes of many. Read morePublished on January 1, 2013 by Mr Pungyao
The DVD I received was in great shape and played well too!
I've never heard of gay samurai before, but of course they would never admit it in Japan. Read more
I enjoyed this movie more than my 3* rating suggests. The elegant portrayal of the stringently disciplined, tough environment of a 19th century samurai dojo is deceptive. Read morePublished on April 20, 2011 by Judy Croome
No surprise. I new the film,I had appreciated it a long time ago, but wanted it in my library.It remains a unique production:such a delicate subject handled with a fine craft.Published on July 22, 2010 by Jan Delfosse
(Japan/France/UK - 1999)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtracks: Dolby Digital / DTS
1865: A beautiful young male warrior... Read more
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