Walter Andrade’s review published on Letterboxd:
I only have compliments for this movie, it rocks in every single aspect. Therefore I'd like to start talking about the main subject here: the samurai code and it's value.
If you have watched Yojimbo or even Sanjuro you probably remember of this character played by Toshiro Mifune. That mocking and sarcastic ronin capable of take advantage of two different masters for his own sake. Of course this is an image of a decadent samurai, a samurai that certainly lost all the respect for the Bushido.
Losing the respect for Bushido is the theme of this movie. It shows a samurai walking in the border of this ancient code, facing it, questioning it, criticizing it. I can easly imagine Tsubaki Sanjuro passing trough this same doubts, in his own way. This story is about Hanshiro Tsugumo, whose son-in-law died trying to break the code for the sake of his family. Tsugumo soons realize that this code does not mean shit when you are a man trying to help your family.
I can't go any further on the screenplay. I think that what I've said is enough to at least create some curiosity without spoil it. But you be ready and listen to those dialogues with all your attention.
Also, I must say that the cinematography is simple awesome, brilliant, wonderful. Japanese directors seem to be specialist on using the light wisely, the photography of this movie is almost enough to make you feel amazed with it. And I can't forget talking about those symbols, specially the Iyi's clan symbol. It's a lotus involved by a square. It symbolizes the clan's own radicalism and anchorage with Bushido. Like they're trapped by it. Also the samurai armor is a symbol of the old samurai image, which Tsugumo violently throws to the floor and disassembles it.
This movie also has one of the bests - if not the best - samurai duels ever. Probably the best for me. It's the one between Tsugumo and the last Iyi's retainer alive. Simply awesome.
Nevertheless, this is a fundamental movie for those who love samurai movie, specially those made after war, fulfilled with those anti-heroes and this noir environment. It's on my favorite list.