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Red Lion (1969)

Akage (original title)
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 »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Gonzo
...
Tomi
Etsushi Takahashi ...
Ichinose Hanzo
Minori Terada ...
Sanji
Nobuko Otowa ...
Oharu
Yûko Mochizuki ...
Ume
Jitsuko Yoshimura ...
Oyoo
Kawai Okada ...
Osode
Shigeru Kôyama ...
Staff Chief Aragaki
Hideyo Amamoto ...
Dr. Gensai
Tokue Hanazawa ...
Komatora
Shin Kishida ...
Secretary Sokichi
Hideo Sunazuka ...
Amegaeru
Bokuzen Hidari ...
Gohei
Gorô Mutsumi ...
White Hair advance party leader (as Goro Mutsu)
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Storyline

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 officials and businessmen. Written by Alex Ebora <ebora87@eelab.newpaltz.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Comedy

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Details

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Release Date:

17 December 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Red Lion  »

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Trivia

The Japanese title for this film is Agage which means "Red Hair". See more »

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User Reviews

Satire of Japanese History likely to seem bizarre to Americans
25 October 2000 | by (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – See all my reviews

Gonzo (Mifune Toshiro), a Robin Hood-like figure, shows up in his home town after several years' absence wearing a red wig like those worn by leaders of the imperial army. The son of a farmer, Gonzo has returned in supposed honor as a leader of the revolutionary imperial army, overthrowing the power of the Tokugawa shogunate and restoring power to the Emperor. Conflict and comedy result as Gonzo's military prowess and connection to the imperial army are called into question. Mifune carries the film in a role similar to his portrayal of Kikuchiyo in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954).

Those with little knowledge of the Meiji restoration might find some of the comedy difficult to grasp.

I feel that there is an undercurrent of socialist revolution beneath the comedy in this film. The interplay between Gonzo and the local magistrate's samurai bodyguard, Hanzo, is the main vehicle for this agenda. Gonzo displays an unwavering faith that "the world is changing" and that the ruling elite will no longer be allowed to enslave the masses. Hanzo counters him with "the only thing that will change is the flower on the official crest."

Okamoto's other films do not necessarily support this agenda, although Samurai Assassin (1965) and Sword of Doom (1966) both center on disillusioned ronin, like Hanzo, who participate in the fractious revolutionary activities leading up to the Meiji restoration out of interest for their personal advancement rather than idealistic belief in social progress.

I found this a complex film, but one worth watching if you are interested in Japanese history or culture.


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