Sword of Desperation is a 2010 Jidaigeki film that is just as much about drama as it is about Edo-era politics and awesome sword fights. It shows just how nasty the interpersonal relationships involved in running a fief can be, and comes with many unexpected twists.
This film features examples of:
- Batman Gambit: The entire reason Lord Ukyou allows Sanzaemon to live after he kills the Lord's mistress. Lady Renko was exerting negative influences on Lord Ukyou. Lord Ukyou listened to her poisonous advice, including raising taxes on an already highly-taxed land (resulting in riots and the death of the riot leaders), complaining about lack of money for plays and other entertainment when the peasantry was practically starving, and getting the Lord to rebuild a useless temple so that her father could be installed as its head abbott. The only person to protest her influence to Lord Ukyou was Obiya (the Lord's stepbrother), and the Lord was so blinded by his love for his mistress that he shouted for Obiya to leave the room. Sanzaemon killed Renko as he saw it was his duty to end her "poisonous influence" (as he called it) on the Lord and expected to be executed for his efforts. Instead, the Lord's advisor Tsuda suggests to Lord Ukyou that Sanzaemon be kept alive and made Chief Bodyguard. Eventually things would get bad enough that Obiya would try to kill Lord Ukyou, and Sanzaemon (who is considered to be the best swordsman in the land, if not the best swordsman of his era) would be able to kill Obiya. At that point, Sanzaemon could be blamed for murdering Obiya and killed, and Lord Ukyou's desire for revenge could be satisfied. Everything goes to plan... except for the part where Sanzaemon kills Tsuda with his final breath using his secret technique, the Hisshi Ken Torisashi.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Each injury that Sanzaemon takes in the final battle makes it all the more likely that he won't survive to the end of the movie. (He doesn't.) However, at the time of his death he accomplishes three important goals: he kills the Lord's mistress who was "poisonously" influencing him, he kills the Lord's stepbrother who was fed up with the way the peasantry were being treated, and he kills the Lord's advisor who came up with such an evil plan that ended in the deaths of many people.
- The Determinator: Sanzaemon, in every way. Especially at the end of the movie.
- Downer Ending: Downside, Sanzaemon dies, Rio is widowed, and the evil Lord Ukyou still lives. Upside, Renko and Tsuda - both bad influences on Lord Ukyou - are dead, and there's the chance that the Lord may reform free of these influences.
- Evil Chancellor: Tsuda, although he is very good at hiding it. It doesn't help much that Lord Ukyou is a pretty evil person himself.
- In Medias Res: The movie starts in the middle. After Sanzaemon kills Renko not five minutes into the movie, a good portion of it is spent in flashbacks showing just how we got to that point.
- Jidaigeki: Firmly takes place in the Edo Period.
- Kabuki Sounds: Feature prominently in the start of the film, what with the first scene being the Lord and his retainers watching a Kabuki play.
- Madeof Iron: Sanzaemon, evidenced by how many hits he takes at the end of the film before finally dying.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Interesting to note that it is the Lord himself who asks for mercy in regards to Sanzaemon. It is later revealed that it was all a Batman Gambit to get Sanzaemon to eliminate Obiya and give the Lord a more obvious reason for having him killed in revenge for the murder of his mistress.
- Properly Paranoid: Lord Ukyou's retainers (and and rightfully so considering how many people are usually out to kill a Feudal Lord). Also Sanzaemon, considering he sends Rio far away to raise his and her child.
- Walk the Earth: The first thing Sanzaemon does after completing his one year sentence of house arrest is tour the fief on a short journey, including seeing the temple that was built due to Renko's influence on the Lord.