In exchange for board and lodging, lightning-fast samurai Mokunoshi is helping out in the everyday lives of a couple of local farmers. To keep in shape, he trains with bright farmer’s son Ichisuke, while sister Yu furtively watches them. When the ronin Sawamura (played by director Tsukamoto Shinya) suddenly appears, asking Mokunoshi to go on a mission in Edo, and at the same time a bunch of bandits are lurking on the edge of the village, the peaceful existence of the three comes under threat.
The colour palette in shades of grey, the razor-sharp camerawork and pulsating synthesiser soundtrack immediately set the grim tone of this nihilistic take on the chanbara genre, in which every killing is one too many. The story of the samurai protecting a village against evil, well-known from Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, is placed by this modern Japanese auteur in a new – more experimental – light.