One of the most thrilling and disturbing samurai epics, feature delivers unparalleled actions and outstanding performance from two of Japan's greatest actors, Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune. Nakadai dominates the screen as Ryunosuke Tatsue, a man for whom killing is a pleasure. Brought up by a father to whom the sword was the way of life, the sword is now the only family he recognises. Pitted against him is Taranosuke Shimada, an opponent of equal prowess, who regards the use made of the sword as the outward manifestation of a man's spiritual state. Set in the 1860s, with the Japanese feudal system under threat from a limited democracy, feature interweaves romance, politics, and psychological observation. Always at the centre is the spectacle of a soul going rotten in an era without values. The message is the medium and the medium is the sword.