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The First Cut (Short)
by David Chase (davidchase@rogers.com)

Rated: PG   Genre: Action/Adventure   User Review: ****
Part Western, part Eastern, a pair of Samurai wage a duel for something more than honor.


This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



FADE IN:

EXT. WILDERNESS - DAY
                                                            
The sun beats down on a lone figure soldiering across the
barren wilderness.
                                                            
KAI, 25, wears a light colored kimono and looks every part
the wandering Samurai. He wields matching Katana and dagger.
His hair pulled back in a tight top knot reveals his
suntanned face.
                                                            
Kai Squints through the shimmering heat, and continues on
toward a small town in the distance.
                                                            
 
EXT. TOWN - DAY
                                                            
The town is little more than a collection of buildings on
either side of a dusty street.
                                                            
Kai saunters down the middle of the street, glancing around
casually at his surroundings.
                                                            
The odd person mills about here and there, all regarding Kai
with an air of suspicion.
                                                            
Passing a woman scrubbing her front stoop, Kai watches as
she stops and cautiously herds her children back inside.
                                                            
Finally reaching the end of the street, Kai finds himself in
front of a two story building, where a lone man sits under a
canopy on the front stoop.
                                                            
                       KAI
You hide out in the open.
                                                            
His chair tipped onto it's back legs and supported by the
wall, ICHIRO nurses a bottle of sake. He doesn't look up,
barely acknowledging Kai's presence.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
And yet somehow you still managed
to find me, Kai.
                                                            
Ichiro is also dressed in a light, albeit lightly stained,
kimono. His hair hangs loose, and he sports several days
growth on his face.
                                                            
Kai looks around, seeing people slowly retreating indoors,
as if ducking for cover.
                                                            

2.

                       KAI
I just followed the smell of sake.
                                                            
Ichiro grins, finally looking up.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Why don't you go back home?
                                                            
                       KAI
You know I can't do that, Ichiro.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
You can't, or you won't?
                                                            
Kai strains to see inside the house behind Ichiro.
                                                            
                       KAI
Is she in there?
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Is who where?
                                                            
Kai sighs, unable to find amusement in Ichiro's game.
                                                            
                       KAI
Very well. I am here by order of
Lord Shimada to return property
which was taken from him.
                                                            
Ichiro laughs out loud.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Ha! Lord Shimada!
                                                            
He places extra emphasis on the word "Lord".
                                                            
                       KAI
There was a time when you, too,
called him Lord. Is it so long ago
that you've forgotten?
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
No, Kai, I remember.
                                                            
He slowly stands up.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I think it's you who needs a
history lesson.
                                                            
The two men lock eyes for a moment.
                                                            

3.

                       KAI
Are you suddenly going to turn
noble on me? That would be quite
the about face.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
If serving a dog like Shimada
makes one noble, you can have it.
                                                            
His eyes narrow, but Kai shows no other reaction.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Are you just going to let that go?
I've insulted your lord. Where is
the sense of outrage?
                                                            
Ichiro pauses, still looking for a reaction.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Or is it that you know I'm right?
                                                            
                       KAI
Enough!
                                                            
Kai's shout seems to echo in the confines of the street.
                                                            
                       KAI
We both know why I'm here.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Yes, to retrieve stolen property.
                                                            
                       KAI
That won't be sufficient.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
      (nodding)
I see.
                                                            
Bending down, Ichiro picks up a sheathed Katana from off of
the floor beside him. He stands and looks back at Kai.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
And Shimada sent only you?
                                                            
                       KAI
There will be others coming soon.
I came alone so you might have the
chance to do this honorably.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I'm surprised. That's very
generous of Lord Shimada.
                                                            

4.

                       KAI
Shimada would have sent a hundred
men without giving it another
thought. It was my idea to try it
this way first.
                                                            
A small smile forms on Ichiro's face.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
That is noble of you. Sentimental,
and foolish, but still noble.
                                                            
                       KAI
Unlike you, Ichiro, I still have
my honor intact.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Why, because you serve a fat
tyrant, who gets rich off the
backs of his citizens?
                                                            
                       KAI
Lord Shimada gives his people
order. And protection.
                                                            
Ichiro smirks.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Yes, I've seen the protection he
provides to anyone who disagrees
with him.
                                                            
                       KAI
And what about you? What kind of
protection can you offer to these
people?
                                                            
Ichiro eyes him closely, before glancing about, seeming to
make eye contact with unseen recipients.
                                                            
As he looks around, Kai begins to spot men emerging from
hiding places throughout the town. A sword wielding man in
an alley. A pair of armed men converging at the other end of
the street. A pair of archers on a rooftop.
                                                            
Kai turns his attention back to Ichiro.
                                                            
                       KAI
So that's how you're going to play
this? I should have known.
                                                            
Ichiro motions again, prompting his men to stand down.
                                                            

5.

                       ICHIRO
You assume too much. Unlike
Shimada, I can fight my own
battles.
                                                            
Ichiro slowly makes his way off the stoop, stepping down
onto the dusty street.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Why are you really here?
                                                            
                       KAI
You know why. You didn't just
steal from Shimada.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Who says I stole anything?
                                                            
                       KAI
I do. She was promised to me.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
And I suppose there's no way she
would have chosen me unless forced
to do so, is that it?
                                                            
                       KAI
She's coming with me, and there's
nothing you can do to stop it.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Doesn't she have a choice?
                                                            
                       KAI
None of us does.
                                                            
Seeing the resolution in Kai's eyes, Ichiro nods, accepting
the inevitable. Slowly, he unsheaths his sword.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I hoped it wouldn't come to this.
                                                            
                       KAI
The moment you took her from me,
you ensured it would.
                                                            
Kai unsheaths his katana. Slowly, they Begin circling,
stalking one another.
                                                            
People slowly start taking up vantage points to get a good
view. Keeping one eye on his adversary, Kai glances about,
getting a sense of the gathering crowd.
                                                            

6.

The two warriors pause, locking eyes for a split second.
Finally, Kai lets out a loud KIAI.
                                                            
With blinding speed, they attack, their swords coming
together in a flash of light. Back and forth, strike and
parry, they attack and counter, the sound of metal on metal
ringing out.
                                                            
Pulling back, they pause for a moment.
                                                            
                       KAI
Have you gotten old already?
                                                            
Ichiro's breathing is already noticeably heavier than Kai's.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I'm only three years older than
you. Don't count me out yet.
                                                            
Squaring off again, their swords CLANG together over and
over. Gradually, it becomes obvious that Kai is the more
accomplished swordsman. Ichiro, utilizing unorthodox
techniques, fights with more tenacity.
                                                            
Kai continues to beat Ichiro back. He pauses a split second,
seemingly giving Ichiro an opening. As Ichiro lunges, Kai
sidesteps, taking advantage of his opponent's misstep. He
slashes across Ichiro's side, drawing blood.
                                                            
                       KAI
You've gotten sloppy.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
And you're Still trying to prove
you're better than me.
                                                            
                       KAI
You think that's what this is all
about? Some childhood competition?
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I've known you far too long to
believe you're here out of duty.
It kills you to think that she
would have chosen me.
                                                            
They attack again, their swords coming together in a loud
CLANG. They stand, face to face and sword to sword, glaring
at one another
                                                            
                       KAI
You're the jealous one. You
couldn't stand knowing that
Shimada promised his daughter to
            (MORE)

7.

                       KAI (cont'd)
me. You hate seeing me succeed
while you fail again.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
You always were the most arrogant
bastard I knew.
                                                            
They break, each stepping back quickly. Kai attacks anew,
pressing with even more ferocity. Ichiro defends valiantly,
but is pressed back further and further.
                                                            
                       KAI
You can't win this.
                                                            
Kai's attack forces Ichiro back onto his stoop. Ichiro
stumbles, barely avoiding a blow aimed at his head.
                                                            
Kai attacks again, pursuing Ichiro onto the stoop. Ichiro
rolls out of the way, avoiding another strike.
                                                            
His anger beginning to show, Kai attacks again. Ichiro jumps
up onto the railing running along the stoop and propels
himself back onto the street.
                                                            
Furious, Kai kicks viciously at the railing, busting through
it and following Ichiro back to the street.
                                                            
Both men breathe heavily, circling one another again.
                                                            
                       KAI
Why would you want to keep someone
who doesn't love you?
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Think about it. Would I risk all
of this just to prove some foolish
point to you?
                                                            
                       KAI
Do you think I would come all of
this way, alone, just because my
ego is bruised?
                                                            
They pause again, as if considering each other's position.
                                                            
                       KAI
I would die for her. Would you?
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
You're holding onto something that
was never there. Let it go.
                                                            

8.

                       KAI
You know I can't.
                                                            
Letting loose another loud KIAI, Kai attacks again.
                                                            
As the two warriors trade blows, a woman steps out from
inside Ichiro's house. YASUKE is dressed in simple common
clothes, but is still very beautiful.
                                                            
Kai pauses, taking notice of her.
                                                            
                       KAI
Yasuke.
                                                            
His eyes widen as he takes note of her appearance,
particularly her swollen belly and healthy, pregnant glow.
                                                            
The look of resolution drains from Kai's face, replaced by a
look of despair.
                                                            
Ichiro watches the change, standing tense and uncertain.
                                                            
Kai makes eye contact with Yasuke, his face pleading, but
she can only look away.
                                                            
His head bows for a moment. Finally, gripping his short
sword tightly, he looks back at Ichiro.
                                                            
Their eyes meet again. Ichiro sees the resolution in his
face once more, but the anger is gone.
                                                            
With the slightest motion, Kai partially unsheaths his short
sword, signalling his intention.
                                                            
Ichiro nods, acknowledging Kai's intention.
                                                            
In a blur, Ichiro steps in, slashing viciously across Kai's
chest, his momentum carrying him past Kai.
                                                            
Kai stands quietly for a moment, before dropping face first
to the ground.
                                                            
Ichiro continues to stand with his back to him.
                                                            
                       YASUKE
Kai!
                                                            
Yasuke rushes to Kai's side, kneeling beside him.
                                                            
                       YASUKE
      (crying)
Why, Kai? Why would you do this?
                                                            

9.

Turning his head slightly, Kai labors to speak.
                                                            
                       KAI
I...had to be sure you were happy.
                                                            
Kai's eyes slowly close, as Yasuke continues to cry.
                                                            
Ichiro approaches and stands beside Yasuke. After a moment,
she stands and turns toward Ichiro. They embrace.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
I always thought his honor
mattered more to him than
anything. I was wrong.
                                                            
They turn and begin to walk toward the house.
                                                            
A pair of seedy looking men slither up to Kai's body. One of
them grips his katana.
                                                            
Ichiro whirls toward them.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Don't touch him!
                                                            
Everyone assembled freezes. Ichiro looks around.
                                                            
                       ICHIRO
Bury him. With his sword.
                                                            
As Ichiro continues toward his house, Yasuke beside him, the
assembled citizenry solemnly converge on the fallen warrior.
                                                            


FADE OUT.


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From Kevin Isaacson Date 8/4/2009 ****
Nice short. Feels like it would make an excellent scene of a bigger story. Do you have something in the works? :-) Nice flowing dialogue and I love how you format the fight scene. I've struggled with that myself. How much detail to put in or leave out. I like how you did it. The first time Inchiro speaks, leave out Kai's name. Felt like a stronger line without it. I think you could have added a twist at the end. Make Yasuke pregnant with Kai's baby. She got pregnant before Ichiro took her away. Just a thought. Nice job though.


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