Sumptuous medieval-Japanese sword opera…with tap-dancing. The often grim and brutal tone of the film is lightened with frequent touches of slapstick humour, scenic beauty, and Stomp-like rhythmic pieces. The swordplay is lightning fast, gracefully precise, and bloody. The characterisation is minimal, and relying heavily on archetypes and classic thematic building blocks to evoke empathy. It doesn’t always succeed, but the fundamental conflict of the film is really one between forces of nature than between human characters. Highly watchable and engrossing.