Following the death of the second Tokugawa shogun, it is revealed that he was poisoned by retainers of his son Iemitsu in hopes of gaining him the shogunate despite the stammer and ... See full summary »
Impersonating an Imperial Army officer by wearing a "red lion's mane", a poor servant returns to his village after 10 years of absence to end the village's suffering caused by corrupt ... See full summary »
In the Edo period, a nameless ronin accepts an assignment to go to a mountain pass and wait. Near the pass he stops at an inn where a collection of characters gather, including a gang set ... See full summary »
A sadistic Daimyo (feudal lord) rapes a woman and murders both her and her husband, but even when one of his own vassals commits suicide to bring attention to the crime, the matter is ... See full summary »
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
Satisfying chambara action with tongue firmly in cheek
Both the strength and the major weakness of Kiru! is that it refuses to take itself too serious. Although there are some notable moments where Okamoto goes for the dramatic angle (the squad leader whose wife works in the brothel facing off with Tatsuya Nakadai's character for one) and does it well, he keeps sabotaging his own movie. In that aspect, Kiru is definitely not a formal jidai-geki but more of a light-hearted samurai action film.
Kihachi Okamoto might not be well known outside chambara circles, but he's one of the best in the genre and definitely at the top of his game directing action. Fresh from the devastating Sword of Doom (his magnum opus and one of Japanese cinema's finest moments), he brings a fresh, wild approach to his action. Less stylized and formal but more energetic. In terms of samurai cinema, the movie opens in a rundown little village and with the dust and winds blowing the whole setup is eerily reminiscent of Yojimbo setting. The plot is a crossover of sorts between Kurosawa's Sanjuro movies and the themes Eiichi Kudo explored in his Samurai Revolution trilogy (samurais ambushing and assassinating a daimyo for the honour of their clan etc). It may seem a bit convoluted and off-putting to the uninitiated, but that's typical in films of this kind.
With regards to the comedy angle, while Kiru is a light-hearted fare, it's definitely not laugh-out-loud funny. A lot is lost in the translation I guess, but sometimes the comedic timing of Tatsuya Nakadai as the cunning, sly yakuza (a welcome change from the tortured soul characters he played in the 60's) and Etsushi Takahashi as the overzealous farmer with samurai ambitions shine through.
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