Hana

2006

Comedy / Drama

3
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 1215

Synopsis


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Cast

Tadanobu Asano as Jubei Kanazawa
Travis Willingham as Yokokawa
Chuck Huber as Otokichi
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.05 GB
1280*682
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 0 / 8
2.03 GB
1920*1024
Japanese
NR
23.976 fps
12hr 0 min
P/S 1 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 7 / 10

Deconstructs the Samurai legend

Hana Yori mo Naho is a Samurai film in which there are no flashing swords or bodies leaping over walls. Hirokazu Koreeda's (Maborosi, After Life) latest is a gentle comedy-drama that deconstructs the legend of the brave Samurai warrior and the Bushido code of seeking honor through revenge. The title of the film means flower, and Hana wants to change the symbol of the cherry blossom associated with the warrior spirit to one that represents a peaceful and nurturing life. Engendered by the earthy humor of the underclass, the film has many laughs, a wonderful soundtrack of joyous Renaissance music, and colorful characters brought to life by an excellent ensemble cast, yet it meanders and lacks a single crystallizing moment that brings its point home.

Set in Edo (modern day Tokyo), Hana takes us back to the year 1702 where Soza (Okada Junichi), a young Samurai has come to the village to fulfill his father's dying wish and seek revenge against his killer, Jubei Kanazawa (Tadanobu Asano). Illuminating the conditions of the times, Soza lives in a dilapidated building that he shares with other impoverished residents: garbage collectors, fish peddlers, and debtors hiding out from collectors. Though he wants to restore honor to his family and collect the 100 Ryo reward from his clan to help his impoverished family, Soza lacks even the basic skills of a swordsman.

This becomes painfully evident when he is roughed up by Sodekichi (Ryo Kase), a local resident who resents the Samurai. A friend, Sadoshiro (Arata Furuta) also exploits the trusting Soza, claiming many times in restaurants that he has seen Kanazawa in order to have Soza buy his food. While seeking the man who killed his father, Soza establishes himself in the community, teaching the boys and girls in the village to read and write and finding much in common with Osae (Rie Miyazawa), a married woman who, with her eight-year old son, is waiting for husband to return. A satirical subplot questioning the legend of the 47 Ronin and the warrior spirit the story represents, complicates things as a group of samurai on their own mission of revenge, hide in the town disguised as professional people.

They distrust Soza, thinking that he is a spy and assign a fellow ronin to watch his every move. When the young Samurai finally crosses paths with his father's attacker, now a family man living with a widow and her child, he questions the Samurai code of honor and the ethics of revenge. Soza, sensitively portrayed by Okada - a band singer turned actor, is a good-hearted man who recognizes the need to better his society, yet Koreeda portrays him as a weakling and a coward, a role that undermines the film's anti-violence message. While Koreeda is to be congratulated for attempting a major stylistic departure and for condemning the endless cycle of violence, Hana falls short of his best efforts.

Reviewed by screaminmimi 9 / 10

missing the point about real heroism

I think the first reviewer misses the point of Kore-Eda's work. He has an almost documentarian's way of showing human behavior. It's decidedly not theatrical. His characters are flawed, real people. Soza-sensei's abhorrence of violence is not undercut by his fear of being sliced up. He discovers the strength to be a real human being amid what he comes to recognize as counterproductive posturing.

The 47 Ronin subplot is not a distraction. It's a mirror of Soza's choosing life over revenge. Susumu Terajima hits just the right note as the surviving Ronin. If you don't know Japanese history and myth-making, it might seem like a distraction, but it is the point of the whole story, that a slavish devotion to the ideals of Bushido is in conflict with living an authentically human life.

Besides, Rie Miyazawa is a total hoot in the play within a play. It is a pleasant surprise that Kore-Eda can do comedy and still keep it real. I was beginning to think that he was only good at grimness, but I was reminded of the small comic touches in "Nobody Knows" and "Afterlife." I can't remember if there was anything funny in "Mabarosi." I just remember how depressing it was.

Reviewed by kovalsky-1 10 / 10

One of high points of TIFF

It's one of those films you come out of smiling a wide happy smile - it's so delicate and subtly funny (alright, it does feature a lavatory, but none of the "standard" toilet humor), it's also kind to characters and makes its point(s) in a sly, unobtrusive manner.

It's a celebration of human values over the way of the samurai, especially as it has been presented in Japanese and Western popular culture in the past few decades. A joy to watch visually, too. I thought it might be Koreeda-san's best film so far, although some viewers may find it a bit more conventional/Westernized than, say, Nobody Knows or Maboroshi (which is not at all bad).

I will deliberately leave it at that, to avoid revealing any of the plot, which often overturns expectations.

It was the second film out of 17 I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it still remains a highlight for me.

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