Review Date: 2/5/00
Cast: Ichikawa Raizo
Oh dear, a serious step backward for the series, just as I was beginning to enjoy it. This is a long-winded, tedious, and confusing tale as Nemuri Kyoshiro once again stumbles into an unpleasant situation. First he witnesses a brash young lord testing his sword on the local peasants. The peasants want revenge, so they kidnap the lord's lover's little sister, but Kyoshiro stands in the way of their plans and delivers the girl back to her parents. The peasants believe he's in league with the villains, but he's got his own hidden agenda up his sleeves. All sorts of conspiracy and intrigue take place as just about everyone in the town wants Kyoshiro dead, and in a surprise move, he ends up surrendering his sword, the very soul of a samurai, to save the lives of the downtrodden peasants (but not for long!). Fortunately, we are treated to the first sight of blood in the series, which makes the combat sequences more enjoyable, but the hard to follow narrative and choppy camera work still make the film a chore to sit through.