The Montreal World Film Festival often has an interesting selection of Asian films. The Japanese film "Sword Of Desperation" is being featured in the Competition category and has certainly earned its place there.
Set in Japan some 300 hundred years ago, "Sword Of Desperation" is based on a short story series by Shuhei Fujisawa's entitled "Hidden Blade." The stories usually involve one of the characters who master a secret sword technique that gets used on an enemy at an unexpected moment.
A skilled swordsman named Kanemi Sanzaemon, kills the mistress of a powerful government leader due to the fact that she had been abusing of her influence by interfering negatively in matters dealing with finances and the public. Surprisingly, Kanemi receives a lenient punishment and is allowed to return to his position within the clan. What he doesn't realize is that there is more to this situation than meets the eye. Not only does he find himself being led towards a looming disaster but to make matters more complicated, his wife passes away suddenly and her niece Satoo is secretly in love with him. Kanemi has to make decisions that will ultimately change his life forever.
The first thing that really stands out in this film is the cinematography. The scenery, décor, costumes and camera movements really make the film interesting to watch.
The acting was notable and particularly how emotions were often conveyed in silence through eye contact or physical movements really added depth to the film's quality.
The screenplay was interesting, although was slow at times. The unexpected turn of events at key points in the film made up for it.
For those who like action samurai films, this is not one of those. While there is sword fighting and some gruesome moments, the vast part of the film is slow moving but it is a film worth checking out.