Synopsis by Mark Deming
A seemingly simple assignment sends a warrior for hire into a labyrinth of danger and intrigue in this intelligent and expressive action vehicle from filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda. In Japan in the year 1614, Sasuke Sarutobi (Koji Takahashi) is a retainer of the Sanada Clan who has grown weary of the constant warfare that has become a fact of life in his country. Tatewaki Koriyami (Eiji Okada) is a lieutenant with the Tokugawa Clan who has fled his commanders and thrown his alliances behind a rival clan, and Sarutobi is ordered to discover his whereabouts. However, as Sarutobi sets out in search of his quarry, two people he meets en route -- a charming but amoral thug and a beautiful woman -- both wind up dead shortly after he establishes friendship with them, making it clear to the samurai that someone is out to get him. As a strange and deadly assassin follows Sarutobi's trail, he finds himself drawn deeper into a web of dangerous alliances and bitter conflicts, with the warrior meeting almost no one he can trust short of a beautiful dancer also hoping to escape the violence around her. Sarutobi was loosely adapted from a novel by Japanese author Koji Nakada.