Samurai Rebellion (1967)
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
The first Blu-ray of perhaps
Kill! is an entertaining and unusual take on the samurai/swordplay genre that plays for laughs many of the conventional tropes and set-ups common in the classic films from that tradition. I was fascinated observing how many of the fighting techniques, interpersonal conflicts, man vs. world showdowns and dramatic battle scenes that impact viewers with awe-inspiring tension can become a showcase of hilarity with just a slight exaggeration of tone, body language or facial expression (or simply cranking the fans that stir up dust clouds an extra notch or two.) Barking dialog that would come across as solemn and severe in more straightforward, traditional chanbara epics conveys much of the same surface meaning in advancing the story along in Kill! but also ends up generating a nice side helping of mirth in the process. Though at least one review considers
Written by Shinobu Hashimoto
Directed Masaki Kobayashi
In 18th century Edo Japan, long-time friends Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mufine) and Tatewaki Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai) of the Aisu clan joyfully anticipate a fast approaching annual festival, but all is not well. Isaburo’s son, Yogoro (Go Kato), needs to be wed soon, yet the perfect bride whose status would respect their family honour has yet to be found. This weighs on Isaburo’s wife, the severe Sugo (Michiko Otsuka), even more so than on Isaburo himself. Familial recognition and pride is at stake, two important factors put to the test when the Aisu clan lord, Masakata Matsudaira (Tatsuo Matsumura), decides that his former mistress, Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa), is to be given to them. Controversy stems from the fact that Ichi was actually dismissed from their lord’s court following a rather unorthodox and unexpected emotional outburst.
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Written by Kazuo Koike
Drawn by Goseki Kojima
Cover by Frank Miller
Published by Dark Horse Manga
The Dark Horse Comics imprint Dark Horse Manga may not be one of the giants of North American manga distribution but they make up for their smaller library with consistently and quality. With a focus on mature-rated titles, the legendary “Lone Wolf and Cub” has been one of their bigger comics, which they started publishing in 2000 in regular manga-volume-format, eventually releasing all 28 books that compile the entire 8700+ page epic. A recent trend in manga distribution has been growing in popularity in North America, which is the “3-in-1”; releasing three volumes of a series in a single larger-sized book, which look better for display and are more cost efficient than buying the volumes separately. While this book is titled “Omnibus Volume 1” and not “3-in-1 Volume 1”, it takes the same approach,
The Sword of Doom (1966) Quick Thoughts: I really, really liked this movie. Tatsuya Nakadai, whom I most associate with his role as the gunfighter in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo among several other Kurosawa features including Seven Samurai, Ran, High and Low, Sanjuro and Kagemusha, but of those his Yojimbo role is damn near iconic. The Sword of Doom, though, is the first non-Kurosawa film he's been in that I've seen and now all I want to do is see more.
Nakadai stars as Ryunosuke, a merciless samurai whose life consists
You'd be surprised how many people have told me they're working their way through my books of Great Movies one film at a time. That's not to say the books are definitive; I loathe "best of" lists, which are not the best of anything except what someone came up with that day. I look at a list of the "100 greatest horror films," or musicals, or whatever, and I want to ask the maker, "but how do you know?" There are great films in my books, and films that are not so great, but there's no film here I didn't respond strongly to. That's the reassurance I can offer.
I believe good movies are a civilizing force. They allow us to empathize with those whose lives are different than our own. I like to say they open windows in our box of space and time.
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