Monday, April 26, 2010

侍映画 みぶ ぎし でん - When The Last Sword Is Drawn

When The Last Sword is Drawn aka みぶ ぎし でん (Mibu Gishi Den) is a film by Yōjirō Takita. Made in 2003, this Samurai Drama tells the tale of the little known Shinsengumi member Yoshimura Kanichiro (played by Kiichi Nakai) as a recollection from an elderly Saito Hajime (played by Koichi Sato who later played Serizawa Kamo in NHK's 2004 Shinsengumi). This film also features Sakai Masato of Atsuhime fame ( who also played Yamanami Keisuke in NHK's 2004 Shinsengumi) playing the famed sword progeny Okita Sōji. Set in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Bakumatsu), a young Saito Hajime who is portrayed as a heartless killer whose personality clashes with Yoshimura who comes across as a humble yet money grubbing country Samurai from Nambu Morioka as they both serve as members of the Shinsengumi. Yoshimura quickly gets on the nerves of Saito Hajime with his politeness and constant need for money. With tests of swordsmanship, the two are a breath away from clashing swords. But what Saito does not realize at the time is the degree of sacrifice Yoshimura is making for his wife and children who has now been driven from the clan he left behind to pursue the emerging Meiji Era in Kyoto. History goes into overdrive as the "Wolves of Mibu" leave Kyoto to support the Shogun in Osaka. The end of the Sword Age comes to a climax of deadly proportions for the defiant defenders of the Shogunate as they face the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance who has equipped themselves with modern rifles and the Imperial Banner all while Yoshimura fights to the end to support his family.

Loosely based on actual historical events, When The Last Sword is Drawn is a gem for any true Bakumatsu affectionado or fan of the Shinsengumi. Told in the now familiar style of Saving Private Ryan look back to one's embattled youth ala Otoko tachi no Yamato, Saito Hajime is flooded with memories of his days with Yoshimura in the Shinsengumi when he runs across a framed photo of his former comrade when elderly Saito takes his grandson to the doctor in 1899. There are touching scenes of Yoshimura with his wife and family as well as excellent sword play starting with Yoshimura's test to qualify in the Shinsengumi when he must spar with Nagakura Shinpachi before the watchful eyes of Kondo Isami, Hijikata Toshizo, Okita Sōji, and Saito Hajime. All these events will come back to the elder Hajime who like his real life persona is recorded to have memorialized his former comrades and memories of the Shinsengumi. If you really loved the 2004 NHK Taiga Drama of the same name then you will love this well told chapter of the Shinsengumi story. We sure did! It's a keeper and an excellent addition to our Samurai DVD Collection!

You can find this film and many other good Samurai films at my American Mishima Bushidoya sStore. Enjoy!


  1. Very good review. I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it last year. I think I might have to add it to my Netflix queue again.