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Based on historical events in mid 1500's Japan, this mix of history and fiction stars Shintaro Katsu in a non-action role and Kinnosuke Nakamura as a gifted sharpshooter not a samurai as in his other films. Kenji Misumi, a noted film stylist, and in a few years the director of some of the legendary Lone Wolf films is orchestrating the story.
The film opens as Magoichi arrives in town and immediately gets into trouble with the local warlord's men. The warlord, Nobunaga, is intrigued by Magoichi, not just because he obsessively checks out prostitutes' feet, but also because he commands 3000 highly skilled sharpshooters who have no alliance with any warlord. Using his trusted assistant, "Monkey", Nobunaga learns that Magoichi is searching for a woman who he has fallen in love with just by a glance at her feet. He's never seen her face. Monkey sets Magoichi up using a fake princess as bait and tries to get the 3000 men to work for Nobunaga. Magoichi is hard to fool or predict and Nobunaga's plans don't work out so well. And so it goes.....
First off this is an odd one as there's very little sword play at all. Several scenes of gun trickery involving rifles being tossed around and very unlikely sharpshooting on galloping horses. The film moves at a good pace but starts to drag, especially during the last half which gets very corny when Magoichi's mystery love actually shows up. The movie also introduces fighting Buddhist monks but alas never shows them fighting. While Nobunaga is a real historical figure, most of the other characters seem to be inventions as far as my Japanese history tells me.
Misumi seems to be keeping his stylistic touches at a minimum and directs solidly if with little inspiration. The acting is that hammy Japanese style that I like but some might find a bit over the top. It's light-hearted for the most part and that's the movies saving grace. It seems like a matinée film for the most part.
Overall, I would give this a seven, but after 105 minutes, the disappointing non-ending forces me to drop the film down to a four.
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