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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I can't believe that I've never seen this before, because it ranks with the finest in Japanese cinema. The ensemble cast of crazy, frequently snaggle-toothed actors is superb. These people steal scenes from Mifune Toshiro! That takes talent. Mifune is stellar as always, but the sassy pie-faced hooker, the oily existentialist assassin and the smarmy anxious deputy are amazing as well. Although the film is mostly played for comedy, the ending is as moving as anything that cinema has to offer. A film about very particular people in a claustrophobic little village suddenly becomes an epic metaphor for sweeping political and economic change in Japan. Oh, and I'll be singing that song for a month.
The DVD is also stellar. The subtitles are color coded by character to keep you from getting confused, and you have a choice between full titles and stripped down ones. The liner notes even include a bibliography! Plus the animeigo website has additional liner notes for the film. That's love.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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