Move aside Tom Cruise, here's the real Last Samurai. Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada) is a lowly 50-koku-a-year servant in the final days of the Tokugawa era, who's left with two kids after his wife dies of tuberculosis. Nicknamed "Twilight" by his fellow Samurai because he rushes home after work each evening while they're out downing shots of sake, he's the last of a dying breed - an honourable man who respects the warrior code and knows that taking another man's life is not a trifling matter.
Veteran director Yoji Yamada's sumptuous historical epic harks nostalgically back to Japan's "jidai-geki" films, where emotions and intrigue were more important than the clash of steel on steel. Anyone thirsting for the claret-spurting severed arteries of Zatoichi will be disappointed: Yamada focuses on sketching the daily realities of this dying feudal world in which Samurai spend more time bookkeeping, farming and storing provisions of salt cod than drawing their blades. But when the action eventually comes - in a ferocious indoor swordfight with a rogue member of the clan - our patience is rewarded as Yamada drives his point home with the dazzling precision of a Zen-master.