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 »
Seiji Iwahashi is released early from a 10-year prison sentence for killing the boss of a rival. He returns to find the two rival gangs finalizing a merger. When a pattern of corruption is ... See full summary »
Yataro Tanigawa, a one-eyed hired assassin, impresses yakuza boss Gomyo Kiyoemon with his skill. Gomyo hires Tanigawa as his bodyguard, or yojimbo, to protect him during an inter-clan ... See full summary »
Loyal samurai Samanosuke is attacked, mutilated, and left for dead while carrying out a mission for his clan. He recovers but has lost an eye and an arm. Taking a new identity as Tange ... See full summary »
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 »
Tatsuya Nakadai plays a samurai overcome with guilt over his unwitting part in a massacre of a small village. Now a ronin, he learns of a scheme by his old clan to repeat the same crime. determined to stop them, he endures great hardships in an attempt to atone for his earlier mistakes. Written by
From the truly creepy opening to the climax, this movie holds your attention, both with its cinematography and (more preciously) a gripping and coherent storyline.
Excellent filming techniques in this film hold your attention, when the suspense (yes! actual suspense!) doesn't. The acting (by Nakadai Tatsuya, one of Japan's greatest actors -- far better than Mifune Toshiro, IMHO) is top notch. Finally, the violence (though there's plenty) never degenerates into splatter. The violence appears much more disturbing (intentionally so) and much less titillating than in many "chambara" movies.
Also noteworthy, this movie plays on the "loyalty vs. morality" theme that Gosha seems so fond of hammering. In this particular movie, however, he really pulls it off with some intelligence. Though I'm a big fan of Gosha, I have to admit that not everything he touches turns to "gold" (Get it? You will...).
Even so, if you're going to sample from the "chambara" genre, this is among the best (my other nominee would be "Hitokiri/Tenchu" (1969). Frankly, I think it's among the best Japanese films, period.
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