This movie was going to be called ‘Rebellion’, but the producers thought it would be more enticing to American audiences if it included the word ‘Samurai’. Knowing that, it is not as surprising to watch the movie and see no fighting until the last ten minutes. This is not a martial arts flick, but a family drama, and the situation into which the father (Mifune, who is most famous as the fool in Seven Samurai) is placed is one in which he is only concerned with holding the family together though dishonor and death might come. Again, as in Kobayaski’s other great film Hara Kiri, those who insist on holding to the hollow forms of the Samurai code must in the end see the form ring hollow as they confront a powerful warrior dedicated to those he loves.
There is a beautiful visual effect toward the beginning of the movie where a story within a story within the story is being told, and the story tellers and audience are sitting in such a way that the camera is able to move seamlessly back and forth between each storytelling in such a way that all are woven into the same emotional tapestry.
This is a great movie, and worth re-watching.