Set in 1932 amidst the rise of militarism in Japan, this drama follows three karate protégés, Taikan, Choei and Giryu, who are nearing completion of their education when the military police suddenly take over their dojo for use as a barracks.
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A typical martial arts narrative of rivalry and succession. However, this film makes the philosophy of the art a central focus like Wong Kar Wai's the Grandmaster, as the struggle is an internal not external. However, I wish the film was shot in a less classical style as the realistic choreography would have benefitted from tighter framing in my opinion.
this reminded me a lot of Yoji Yamada's Twilight Samurai in that both films feature very realistic martial arts. none of the fight scenes really feel choreographed, but rather feel organic and without wasted movement. parts of the story are simple events to further progress the real conflict, but the point pays off well enough that it doesn't matter too much. i wish i could give half stars; this is a very solid 3.5.