June 29 - July 15
Lincoln Center - Japan Society

さや侍 (Saya Zamurai)

Japan. 2010
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.

On the run with his little daughter following him, the film starts out with his meeting 3 comical assassins,
who attempt to slice, shoot and chiropractor him to death.

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.

the initial attempts at humoring the prince:
orange eye-balls, painted face, nose-pull

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

the human cannonball

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 walk of shame, the ringmaster daughter

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?

the amazing human kaleidoscope,
click for more kaleidoscopic action

my favorite gags were the spinning human kaleidoscope,
and the full-on bodypainting canvas, both quite interesting efforts

full-on body paint, results in way-cool art!


human fireworks

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.

comical head-slice, reappearance gag

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?

pinwheel blow job

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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