Shiba, a wandering ronin, encounters a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of their dictatorial magistrate, in hopes of coercing from him a reduction in taxes. Shiba takes up ... See full summary »
February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled ... See full summary »
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
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 »
During the time of change of the mid-19th Century, Yaichiro is bid farewell by his fellow samurai friends Munezo and Samon as he leaves their clan's fiefdom on the northwest coast of Japan ... 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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