'Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji! Special Edition'
(Chiezô Kataoka, Ryűnosuke Tsukigata, Chizuru Kitagawa, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1955) 2018 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A samurai travels to Edo with his two servants. On their way, they meet many people and encounter great injustice.
Blu-ray Verdict: Personally, I find that many films either focus on story so much that they lack meaning or they go to the opposite extreme and focus so narrowly on a message that they fail as stories.
Thus it is with great pleasure that I viewed a film that refreshingly melds narrative with meaning in a fashion that works so well it seems almost effortless.
Tomu Uchida's 'A Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji!' is the story of an unassuming samurai who is more interested in a person's actions than his social standing.
In spite of the rigid class divide that exists between himself and his servants he tends to treat them as his equals even when they themselves feel that they are inferior to him.
The film features remarkable subplots that add scope and depth to the social criticism offered by the main plot. Among these is the story of a male orphan who idolizes the samurai's spear bearer and a young woman who is sold into prostitution because her family is too poor to support her.
The style of the film is quite unique. I don't know if I've ever seen a movie switch from one a light comedic tone to a tragic one so effectively.
While this handles some of the same themes covered by directors like Mizoguchi and Naruse it does so without ever seeming overbearing or ponderous.
In closing, this film also boasts one of the best endings I've ever seen. Brilliant end to a brilliant film. Please, I beg of you, run out and buy this brand new Special Edition Blu-ray (chock full of wondrous extras) today! [TM] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional newly translated English subtitles
Brand-new audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, recorded exclusively for this release
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
+FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and filmmaker James Oliver