Director: Toshio Tsuda
Year: 2004
Production Company: Eden Entertainment
Running Time: 119 minutes

In the opening scene Sazen (Etsushi Toyokawa) is in a battle against a group of samurai who come at him with swords at the ready. He quickly dispatches most of them, but finally one samurai slips in and in a quick thrust takes out Sazen’s eye and follows this up with a slashing chop to his right arm and severs that. With one final swing, Sazen kills his attacker and collapses to the ground. His lover Ofuji (Emi Wakui) finds him and carries him home. Though this gets the film off to an action kick, it is also an early indication that this won’t be a standard blood letting bonanza because the killing is done with a near complete lack of bloodshed to the naked eye. The film continues to be very conservative in this respect and along with its TV production values it appears that the film was made very much for the general viewing public of all ages.

The film jumps ahead to an undetermined time and now Sazen has become the security guard in the business that Ofuji runs – sort of a casual friendly drinking place with lovely hostesses to keep one company and with small bows and arrows provided for fun and gaming. Most of the time Sazen lazily slouches around and trades barbs with Ofuji about her singing and cooking, but still carries his sword at his side. In a parallel thread, the lord of the prestigious Yagyu family learns that an old jar had some writing inside that would lead to a fortune of one million ryo, but he recalls that he gave it to his younger brother Genzaburo (Hironobu Nomura) as a cheap wedding gift. Unfortunately, Genzaburo's wife (Kumiko Aso) was so insulted by the gift that she sold it to a wandering junk man. She now pushes Genzaburo out every day to look for it, which he does with an indolent air of reluctance until he chances upon Ofuji’s club and finds great enjoyment in simply lolling about there every day flirting with the ladies.
In the meantime, a small boy has been orphaned by the death of his grandfather and neither Sazen nor Ofuji has the heart to leave him on his own and though both gruffly refuse to admit it they soon take him into their lives with parental pleasure. They also take in his goldfish that just happen to be in a jar – yes – that jar. The action perks up a bit when two rude samurai cause a ruckus in the club and make fun of the cripple – the cripple soon teaches them a lesson in manners but they have other samurai at their beck and call. Once you begin to realize that this isn’t going to be a sword fest and is for the most part a sweet comic almost Disney like film about Sazen and the people around him, it is fairly enjoyable if far from exciting. He and his wife make a great couple and their bickering relationship that is clearly based on a deep love is the heart of the film.

My rating for this film: 6.0