User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 2 out of 20
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  1. PaulB.
    Apr 8, 2006
    10
    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."
  2. First
    Feb 27, 2005
    10
    Capt Okita is more important to the plot than I first realized. The key to many seemingly unconnected details is in the "dream" sequence, in which Hijikawa reflects on the story "A Vow Between Two Men," recounted by Okita (Soji). Three different interpretations: Hijikawa's personal desires, what will happen in reality, his insight into Kano's desires. The conversation between Capt Okita is more important to the plot than I first realized. The key to many seemingly unconnected details is in the "dream" sequence, in which Hijikawa reflects on the story "A Vow Between Two Men," recounted by Okita (Soji). Three different interpretations: Hijikawa's personal desires, what will happen in reality, his insight into Kano's desires. The conversation between Okita and Hijikawa as they wait to observe Kano kill Tashiro, has the same surprising directness as in H's relationship to Cmdr Kondo. So many parallels in this film! So many levels of meaning! No wonder it confounds people unaccustomed to subtitled films: they miss the more interesting points and symbolism. Expand
  3. YoonC.
    Sep 21, 2003
    9
    Oshima's film explores the tension between the highly aesthetisized culture of Japan(yin) and the brutal martial code of the warrior(yang). The central character, the androgynous samurai--deadly and elegant--, represents and triggers the many degrees of suppressed and twisted emotions in the psyche of Japanese culture which perhaps poeticized violence more than any other culture. At Oshima's film explores the tension between the highly aesthetisized culture of Japan(yin) and the brutal martial code of the warrior(yang). The central character, the androgynous samurai--deadly and elegant--, represents and triggers the many degrees of suppressed and twisted emotions in the psyche of Japanese culture which perhaps poeticized violence more than any other culture. At times, a study of tribal pagan mentality, and at other times finely calligraphied visual haikus, this is a tour-de-force, perhaps Oshima's greatest film since Merry X-mas Mr Lawrence. Expand
  4. Shawn
    Mar 19, 2003
    10
    I would rate this as one of THE best films I've seen. Although a little perplexing at the end, after much thought (I pondered the ins and outs for an extensive time), I think I've come to some better understanding about the story. Of course, the mere visual representaton of homosexuality in mid 19th C. Japan is praiseworthy. Great depth and insight on what is likely to be unknown.
  5. FeliciaS.
    Nov 20, 2002
    10
    I just love it when Sozaburo gets f..ked. He's just laying there like a ragdoll, taking it... Now that's art! Oh, and I'm a 16 years old grrrl from Sweden by the way...
  6. David
    Nov 17, 2002
    9
    Graphically charming, rich scenes and wonderfully choreographed fighting scenes, make this movie superb. The ending has 2 possibilities I have yet to figure out.
  7. Snowy_White
    Oct 16, 2002
    10
    Keeps you wondering...
  8. Jack
    Oct 10, 2002
    10
    Mysterious, enigmatic, even clinical. A strange movie that has more power than the story would suggest.
  9. Richard
    Sep 9, 2002
    8
    A puzzler, due to the ambiguous motives of its catalyst character, but compelling and well-done.
  10. Megi-chan^_^
    Aug 3, 2002
    10
    Speechless....... _-_
  11. RoyF.
    Nov 24, 2001
    10
    Superb.
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. 63
    The intriguing subject, unfortunately, collapses under too many talky scenes of the samurai discussing their feelings and gossiping about who loves whom.
  2. 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."
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Walks the line between conviction and camp with a not entirely steady step.