tarrdigrade’s review published on Letterboxd:
There is not much I can say about this film. I think it is near perfect in every aspect. It tells a great story, both captivating emotionally and thrilling. It is also a rather beautiful film, especially showing it's prowess towards the end of the film. It tells a classically influenced tale and it does so marvelously. With pacing that reminds me somewhat of that of Claire's Knee in almost separate episodes that build on each other. In this way we are told about greed and selfishness as implications of war on the human psyche and spirit. It is a relentless and timeless tale. The film seems to meet the criteria for a Japanese Golden age jidaigeki classic, but what really elevates it above and beyond is the sound design. It is so impressionistic and so visceral in a way that could not have been matched by Golden Age classics elsewhere. But of course, as my rating suggests, there is something keeping me from giving it 5 stars and that is the script. I obviously have to be careful here (something might have been lost in translation), but I believe the writing, especially in the beginning, is kind of sloppy. I mean it's nowhere near delicate and just really clumsy and awkward. This isn't enough for me to demote this to anything less than a classic though. Definitely worth a watch or two.