Kill Bill fans might find the blade a bit too hidden in Yoji Yamada's latest film. Slow-moving as it is though, the tender stateliness of this patient paean to honour is sustained with a veteran's serene assurance. Set in mid-19th century Japan, it focuses on Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) - a low-scale Samurai caught on a cusp: he doesn't like the corruption of his superiors' old ways, but he doesn't fancy the new westernisation much either, with its guns and silly walks. When Katagiri's clan leader orders him to kill a rogue Samurai, these internal conflicts come to a head.
Those who saw Yamada's The Twilight Samurai will appreciate the time he takes to explore social change and vengeance, all the while leavening these tumultuous themes with a gentle, humane love story and flashes of wit. Like a Japanese version of The Last Samurai, Yamada's Blade is well worth finding.