19th Century Japan. The European powers are carving up Asia, with their sights set next on Japan. Tetsunosuke and like-minded samurai opposed to the opening of Japan and union with America determine to assassinate the lord of their province who sides with the invaders. The film tells the true story of that fateful incident in 1860, the events leading up to it and its aftermath.
The film looks and feels like a historical dramatization with many dialogue heavy scenes. The incident of the title is shown early on and the film proceeds with flashbacks explaining the character’s motivations. The film does a good job of explaining the characters situation, but again lacks the impact of a more emotionally driven story. The samurai are portrayed favourably, with the main Tetsunosuke’s wife and son offering much of the heart of the film. However, the direction is competent and the acting strong, helping to carry the bare story, which is stretched at over two hours.
Patriotism and protecting traditional values are at the core of this story. As an engaging film it feels lacking. However, for those with an interest in this period, this is worth watching as it is perhaps one of the most famous incidents in Japanese history.
Based on the novel “Sakuradamon no Hen” by Akira Yoshimura.