Zakuro Zaka no Adauchi tells the story of Shimura Kingo, the personal bodyguard to Ii Naosuke, the Chief Minister of the Tokugawa Shogunate. After he fails to prevent his master’s assassination at the hands of rebels opposed to Japan’s opening to the West, Kingo embarks on a 13-year journey to avenge the murder. Even as Japan changes around him, Kingo continues to cling to the spirit and values of the samurai.
By 1873 only one of the assassins, Sabashi Jubei, remains alive. Ironically, on the very day that Kingo learns of Jubei’s whereabouts, the Meiji Government promulgates a law banning avenge killings. But no law can prevent Kingo’s determination to fulfill his sacred duty. After 13 years, Shimura Kingo and Sabashi Jubei meet again -- on the Pomegranate Incline (Zakuro Zaka).
Beautifully filmed, the picture was released in 2014 to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity, the first treaty between the United States and Japan, which effectively ended Japan’s 220 years of isolation.
“Character, place and a sense of passing time are the benchmarks of this film that bears a kinship to the samurai films of Yamada Yoji. Fixed loyalties and ideologies in a changing social schemata are the fuel for its drama, but the stakes are wholly personal. Snow on the Blades is memorable not just for its immaculate realization, but for the weight of its emotional sincerity.” Cinedelphiahttp://cinedelphia.com/best-of-the-japan-cuts-film-fest/
“Japan Academy Prize-winning director Setsuro Wakamatsu recreates the Edo period in lush detail, staging thrilling snowscape fight scenes with precise editing and formal compositions in every frame. Snow on the Blades, based on a short story by Jiro Asada, is both a rollicking samurai epic and an elegiac portrait of a man caught between his unyielding sense of duty and the inevitable extinction of his way of life.” The Strangerhttp://www.thestranger.com/movies/22097233/snow-on-the-blades/