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.
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 »
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 who is an eyewitness to a massacre of a small village by men of his own clan. Even though he did not participate, and did his best to prevent it, he realizes with guilt that he had been manipulated to enable the massacre. He quits and becomes a ronin; wandering the country he learns of a scheme by his former clan to repeat a similar massacre. Determined to stop them, and with the help of women and men who are loyal to him, he endures great hardships, moral and physical, engaging in incredible battles in the effort to atone for his earlier mistake and help to save the lives of defenseless peasants. 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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