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The Samurai I Loved (Semishigure) - arthouse and international DVD / foreign language DVD / historical drama DVD review
THE SAMURAI I LOVED (Semishigure) Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Somegoro Ichikawa, Yoshino Kimura, Koji Imada, Ryō Fukawa, Mieko Harada, Ken Ogata
Director: Mitsuo Kurotsuchi   Distributor: Animeigo
DVD release: 11 August 2009   Runtime: 131 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.85:1, Audio tracks (Japanese - 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo), Subtitles (English), Director's interview, Program notes, Cast/crew bios, Image gallery, Trailers, English promo, Ashura trailer

The costumes, settings, and script of The Samurai I Loved instantly transport samurai film buffs back in time to the era of the black-and-white samurai masterpieces.

The village of samurai families where Bunshiro and Fuku, the daughter of his family's friends, live is seemingly tranquil, with its traditional schooling in song, poetry, proper tea serving, and training for woman in how to serve their masters, festival observance, and swordsman training. Bunshiro is often asked to watch Fuku during the many festival celebrations. She is obviously enamored of Bunshiro during these times, but Bunshiro is not able to reciprocate those feelings. He often finds himself leaving her side to defend his friend's honor from the bullies of the village. As the plot develops, it becomes dangerously clear that Bunshiro has more to worry about than their unrequited love.

As Bunshiro advances in his ability as a swordsman, Fuku becomes trained in the art of serving a future husband. Bunshiro's days as a young man, laughing, swimming and making plans for the future with his two close friends, abruptly comes to an end when his father is arrested for treason, and his father and the group of samurai leaders of the village are all forced to commit hari kari. Bunshiro and his mother are cut off from government pay and forced to live by their wits. Fuku is now forbidden to speak to the family of traitors. Bunshiro's future looks bleak - until one day when the government retainers call for him.

The retainers grant him a job as crop inspector for the same fief that accused his father and friends of treason, trapping Bunshiro into serving the leaders responsible for his father's death while Fuku is sent off to be a concubine for the Lord. Bunshiro's accepts his path, as it allows him to save face and support himself and his mother. The only thing that truly gives him any pleasure is his continued mastery of swordsmanship and his occasional visits to Fuku's old home.

The Samurai I Loved wouldn't be complete without fate intervening in the true style of the epic samurai films. Bunshiro is pulled into a small group left from the days of his father, a group that informs him that not only is the leadership still corrupt and in need of change, but that his childhood love, Fuku, has become an unwitting piece of the evil. Bunshiro eagerly joins in their scheme, and the art of the samurai era is revealed.
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reviewed by Lucinda Tart
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