Just watched Sword of the Stranger, apparently was released in Japan in Sep 07. Well, it's swords, so I'm interested, yeah, but it's also by BONES, which produced Wolf''s Rain, Scrapped Princess, and Fullmetal Alchemist.
Period swordfighting, like Champloo and Kenshin, but totally totally different from the two. Well, obviously it's a movie, but its style is totally different from either of those movies, because it's totally totally serious - kind of like the Kenshin prequel. Anyway, storyline is quite straightforward, tale of redemption kind of stuff, feels actually like a Chinese swordfighting movie, actually, down to the melancholic ending, and the overwhelming preference for flute music. And the fighting scenes tend towards realism, none of the characters have special powers and everybody's kind of mortal - including the main character. Love the way they have like three ranks of fighters - Grade 3 nameless dudes who are just there to die and make the rest look good, Grade 2 chaps with names, and weapons to distinguish themselves from each other, and the two Grade 1 guys who are like pre-ordained to meet. Only bad thing was the Chinese, it's probably more enjoyable if you don't understand Chinese so you can't understand what that group of bad guys are saying.
Oh, and I really love the "where's my sword?" bit. (I need to steal someone's screencap of that scene) Dark humour, yes, but... lol, that's the only humour I found in the whole thing. Oh, and maybe the sarcasm about the hostage situation...