Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. A further, captivating extension of Oshima's marriage of the oblique and the erotic.
  2. 90
    Above all, Oshima has fashioned a tale of men among men that feels familiar at first, then moves boldly into more enigmatic terrain.
  3. It takes a director with exceptional talent, skill and experience to explore ambiguity in all aspects of human nature and behavior, and Oshima has created a film of resilient, downright tensile strength that ends on a satisfyingly ironic note.
  4. 80
    Emblematic of the man's (Oshima) career: ironic, ambiguous, sublime.
  5. 80
    An action film at once baroque and austere, hypnotic and opaque.
  6. Illustrates the underlying fear that when energies that should be directed toward warfare are diverted into passion, unity is impossible.
  7. 75
    Oshima, directing his first film in 14 years, has found an actor with the physical attributes to play the character and seems content to leave it at that; his camera regards Sozaburo as an object of beauty but hardly seems to engage him.
  8. The movie's most striking assets are its lyrical visual style, which forms a silky counterpoint to the plot's turbulent emotions, and Beat Takeshi's smooth and expressive performance as a senior warrior.
  9. Impressionistic and open to interpretation, which is a kind way of saying that there's no way to figure out the ending.
  10. It's actually the surprisingly compelling plot and the often hilarious dialogue that keep you watching this tale of passion and murder in a Samurai militia unit - not the beautiful scenery or the elegant color palette.
  11. Ripe with homoeroticism, but also with what the director — who made the film after recovering from a stroke a few years back — calls "the scent of murder."
  12. It's hard to figure exactly what the point of this movie is -- except maybe to expose the myth of samurai machismo.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A well-crafted potboiler from start to finish.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Walks the line between conviction and camp with a not entirely steady step.
  15. Bizarre, even darkly comic at times. But it's also elegant and mannered.
  16. 63
    The intriguing subject, unfortunately, collapses under too many talky scenes of the samurai discussing their feelings and gossiping about who loves whom.
  17. Reviewed by: Jared Rapfogel
    A difficult, ambiguous film.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. PaulB.
    Apr 8, 2006
    Gorgeous cinematography and hypnotic sound design. Structurally perfect in its controlled ambiguity. If you liked this film, you should also check out Claire Denis' "Beau Travail." Full Review »