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 »
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 »
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.
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
This is a special beast of a samurai film because of several things.
For starters it is often compared unfavorably to "Sword of Doom" (completely nihilist B&W psycho samurai also starring Tatsuya Nakadai as a clone of his Yojimbo character). Quite frankly, Goyokin is far superior in nuance, photography and character depth. It holds that edge and an inherent darkness that is exquisitely explored visually over most samurai films in existence: more poetic than Zatôyichi (2003, Kitano), better filmed and written than Sword of Doom (1966, Okamoto), less remote than Ran (1985, Kurosawa) and darker and deeper than Yojimbo (1961, also Kurosawa); the only samurai to best this is Seven Samurai.
Tatsuya Nakadai comes across as three-dimensional, which is a departure from most chambara film heroes, and tormented but eminently likable. Every character is given sufficient growth and motive. Masaru Sato gives us one of his finest scores ever (the other being that of Yojimbo). The photography defeats any samurai film that could possibly cross your mind (yes, even Ran and by a narrow margin Seven samurai's stark B&W beauty)! The fights have a sincere brutality and make the most of their environment... There is little else to add... well no maybe there is. Don't go in expecting pop-corn entertainment but rather something deeper more complex.
I've heard that Inagaki's Samurai trilogy was Japan's "Gone With the Wind", Red Beard it's "Titanic" and Seven Samurai its ultimate western... if so, "Goyokin" is its "Lawrence of Arabia"!
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