A 1998 mostly black and white Samurai movie, directed by Hiroyuki Nakano, and starring Mitsuru Fukikoshi (as Heishiro Inukai), Tomoyasu Hotei (as Rannosuke Kazamatsuri), Morio Kazama (as Hanbei Mizoguchi), Tamaki Ogawa (as Koharu), Mari Natsuki (as Okatsu).
Partly inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and the style of music videos made popular by MTV, Nakano set out to create a rock-androll samurai movie for today's generation. Using faster cuts than usually seen in japanese cinema, zooms, slow-motion as well as fast scenes, and hauntingly fitting modern rock guitar music performed by Tomoyasu Hotei, the film achieves that goal. No wonder, as the director used to make music videos for bands like Dee-Lite. The action is tight and well-executed, the story is logical, funny and well-conceived and the acting is excellent as well. Especially Hotei as the renegade swordsman is excellent and absolutely cool (Think evil Fonzie). Action and comic relief are equally important, as is romance, altough only in a very innocent way.
The story begins when the reborn soul of the Samurai Heishiro looks back 300 years to an event that changed his life and he will always remember. Then the time is pulled back to Edo-jidai Japan, where peace rained for more several centuries.
In the year 1696, trouble is afoot in the Nagashima Clan, as the sword given to the clan by the Shogun has been stolen by the samurai Kazamatsuri who was supposed to guard it. Kanzen, leader of the clan council, and father of Heishiro, a young and wild samurai who just returned from Edo, decides to manufacture a duplicate of the sword while at the same time trying to regain the original. Losing the sword could mean dishonour towards the shogun and possible to the disbandment of the clan.
Heisiro meanwhile sets out to find the sword and kill Kazamatsuri, to protect the honour of the clan with two childhood friends. He finds and fights Kazamatsuri, but is easily defeated. Heavily wounded Heishiro is saved from certain death only in the last minute by the masterless samurai Hanbei who takes him into his house and, together with his daughter Koharu tends to his wounds.
From now on the story switches to high gear. Heishiro wants revenge, not seeing he is outmatched by both Kazamatsuri's swordmanship, and Hanbei's guile at preventing Heishiro to go out and fight. By and by, Heishiro learns that there is more to being a samurai than just being a master at swordplay....