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 »
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.
Feudal Japan, 1543 to 1562. Kansuke Yamamoto is a samurai who dreams of a country united, peaceful from sea to sea. He enters the service of Takeda, the lord of Kai domain. He convinces ... 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 »
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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