by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Love and Honor (2006)

Director: Yoji Yamada

Jack   A-

IMDB    7.6



   Yoji Yamada's third movie in his "Samurai Trilogy" that have included The Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade. In Love and Honor Shinnojo Mimura is a low ranking samurai : a food taster for a lord. When Shinnojo gets poisoned eating bad shellfish, he loses his sight and his job. The stewart has to commit hari-kari because of his dangerous food selection. Shinnojo's dreams of opening his own kendo studio also now seem to be gone.

   Shinnojo's wife Kayo nurses him back to health. With no money or prospects, Kayo runs into Toya Shimada, who remembers her from years ago, who is now an important samurai. Toya offers his help and Kayo is finally forced to go to him when the family says that she must, hopefully so Shinnojo can keep his salary. Shimada helps her - but at a price. Shimada forced himself on Kayo and then threatened to tell her husband unless she kept coming. Kayo then confesses to Shinnojo what happened and Shinnojo banishes Kayo from the house.

   Shinnojo then begins practicing with his kendo stick. He soon begins to practice sparring in the dojo - he can sense where people are. His sensei tells him: "There is one way you can win. That is if you are resolved to die, and the other man wants badly to live." Shinnojo then repeats something his sensei had told him long ago :"Be resolved you will both die. In that lies victory. Life lies in resolve for death."

   Shinnojo then finds out that Shimada played no part in his retaining his salary. He then sent his servant to deliver a challenge to Shimada. Shimada, a famous swordsman, responds the next day and shows up at the river. Shinnojo tells him: "I cannot in honor yet you live."

   In the duel Shinnojo cuts the arm off of Shimada and Kayo is avenged. That night Shimada kills himself and o one knows who defeated Shimada.

   Kayo comes back to cook for Shinnojo, and he accepts her back.

   The title tells the story. Kayo did what she did because of love, and Shinnojo did what he did because of honor. They had no choice. They were destined to fulfill what fate had dealt them. Another really good samurai movie from Yoji Yamada.