I have a thing for samurai stories. You see, Kendo is where I first learned I could fence. I never wanted to be the princess in the stories. I was clear that princesses had long, straight blond hair and blue eyes. I have brown eyes. My hair was short, mousy brown, and curly. Therefore, I wanted to be the knight. Knights seemed to have all the fun anyway. When knights got stuck in towers they escaped of their own volition. They didn't need anyone to save them. They might work in teams, and (to use an expression from Buffy the Vampire Slayer--the movie) there might be a mutual exchange of butt-saving. However, no one told the story of how a knight was the quest prize carted away on the back of a horse. Most of all, swords are far more awesome than princess crowns. Unfortunately, I read Le Morte Darthur and well...that example of chivalry almost instantly disabused me of the notion that knights were awesome. And then one day I dated a man who mentioned that there were women samurai. Me being me, I was instantly obsessed with gonna bugeisha. I've a strong contrarian streak and pretty much always had one. (Yes, I love punk rock.) Therefore, ronin are particularly appealing to me. So, bring on this movie:
I bought it based upon the trailer alone, and it lived up to my expectations. Mind you, when I originally saw the trailer I thought it was about a gonna bugeisha. Alas, it is not. [sigh] But it's still a wonderful film. Very beautifully shot too. It was well worth taking a chance on, if you like that kind of thing. I admit, I'm pretty hot and cold when it comes to martial arts films. I love Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I've literally fallen asleep in the middle of Hero both times I attempted to watch it. I can't explain why one is totally engrossing and the other is boring. [shrug] Go figure.
Anyway, I was completely drawn in by Rurouni Kenshin. My only disappointment was that the woman who owns/runs the dojo is crap at fencing. I truly wish she'd been better and had been at least able to fend off some of the bad guys. Sure, Kenshin is the hero of the story, but her utter lack of skill made her role as fencing instructor (even a junior instructor) less believable. I've studied with junior instructors. Even at a junior level you're expected to have some skill. Otherwise, you wouldn't be teaching. That said, it was a fun film, and I recommend it. I want to track down the other two now. (It's part of a trilogy.)
 It wasn't until Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown that I was introduced to the concept that one could have both.