さや侍 (Saya Zamurai)
Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto
Kanjuro is a run-down "Scabbard Samurai" an ex-samurai without a sword
(the scabbard being the sword holster) who quits fighting after the death of his wife, thus branding him a wanted deserter.
He is eventually captured by troops, sentenced to commit seppuku (hari-kari)
BUT FIRST, he must attempt the "30-Day Feat" of trying to make the Lord's young son smile,
the lad's had a stone face since him mom died. Thus, Kanjuro has 30 days/attempts to make the
young prince smile again,nand if so, his life will be spared, or he'll die trying.
With help from his jailors, the gags start off and keep going, with the eventual
barking of "thou shalt commit Seppuku" - 29 days left" etc., after each failed attempt
After the "Human Cannonball" attempt, which takes place on the beach,
where the public is able to view his "feats", the remaining attempts allow
the citizens, who start coming in droves, to attend the proceedings
The daughter, Tae, is just too cute, starting out as an angry child, mad at dad for running away from his samurai ways,
mad at his lame attempts at making the prince of sadness smile.
Eventually, she takes an interest in papa Kanjuro's dire situation, and becomes a ringmaster to the daily sideshow,
and a conniving associate, sneaking into the palace to deliver a hurting prince some healing leaves and words of comfort.
They share a bond, as their respective mothers both died in the epidemic.
will her words have any effect on the bowl-haircut boy?
my favorite gags were the spinning human kaleidoscope,
and the full-on bodypainting canvas, both quite interesting efforts
As the days and attempts at making Prince sad-ghetti smile wane,
the attending crowd start rooting for Kanjuro, who has become somewhat
of a hero to the masses, as his gags become more and more elaborate.
The final day's grandstand ploy involves a pinwheel, supposedly what
the Prince's mom used to make him happy. will the pinwheel spin?
will the Prince of Sad Tidings turn his frown upside down?
Like the director's previous film "Big Man Japan", whereby an ordinary man
becomes a larger-than-life hero, only to fall back into the realm of ordinary,
Scabbard Samurai takes this prune-faced shlub of a disheartened man,
and lifts him to great heights by his heart and actions.
Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended.
review by Jefe aka Johnny Chiba
more Scabbard Samurai reviews
Jefe aka Johnny Chiba publishes
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