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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.
The story takes place in feudal Japan, when any commerce with the rest of the world was strictly prohibited. An idealist suddenly appears in an isolated inn (the one that the title refers to), the head-quarters of a group of smugglers, with stolen money intended to ransom his loved one who is forced to work in a brothel. Written by
"We Gave Our Lives For Nothing" - Dark moody character study
A black and white film from a time when most Japanese productions were color although it would be very hard to imagine this film in color. An obscure offering from a director who is known for two of the best samurai films ever, Seppuku and Samurai Rebellion. He also made the seminal Japanese ghost film, Kwaidan.
Set in feudal Japan, a new police officer and his assistant are planning to take down a smuggling ring operated out of an inn on an island in a city criss-crossed with moats. No one dares enter the inn as only certain criminals are allowed in. Inside the the inn isn't a raucous non-stop party you might expect but a quiet, moody place inhabited by a small band of cynical criminals. The leader/owner of the inn is an older man assisted by his 18 year old daughter. Enter two of the criminals, one nick-named the "Disinterested" is played by Tatsuya Nakadai. The other, named the "Living Buddha", has brought in a badly beaten young man he just rescued from an inn on the mainland. The fellow gangsters are unsure of bringing in the unconscious man but the leader accepts the Living Buddha's act of mercy. Suddenly a decrepit drunk, played by Shintaro Katsu, shambles in demanding saké. They throw him out but the drunk is persistent and returns. The leader also allows him to stay. Cared for by the innkeeper's daughter and the "Living Buddha", the young man recovers and they learn that he stole money to buy back his girlfriend who was kidnapped into prostitution. Unfortunately he lost the money to a pickpocket while in an inn hence the beating. Meanwhile a representative for a rich family in the city arrives and tempts the gang with a job smuggling forbidden Dutch goods into the city. The gang has had bad experiences with this family before and they refuse. As time goes by the presence of the earnest young man starts to unravel the tough exteriors of the gang and they begin to want to help him rescue his girlfriend. And so the story unfolds.
A tour-de-force of lighting and black and white cinematography. The pacing is deliberate and the story revolves around the characters instead of action. The movie leaves the confines of the inn only a few times. The ensemble cast is superb with the lead Tatsuya Nakadai delivering his usual tormented soul. The going is a little slow during the second half-hour but it picks up and holds for the rest of the film. The action finally arrives at the end and it's well done.
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