Kagemusha (1980)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  6 October 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 22,330 users  
Reviews: 86 user | 69 critic

A petty thief with an utter resemblance to a samurai warlord is hired as the lord's double. When the warlord later dies the thief is forced to take up arms in his place.


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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
Ken'ichi Hagiwara ...
Jinpachi Nezu ...
Sohachiro Tsuchiya
Hideji Ôtaki ...
Daisuke Ryû ...
Masayuki Yui ...
Mitsuko Baishô ...
Hideo Murota ...
Nobufusa Baba
Takayuki Shiho ...
Masatoyo Naito
Kôji Shimizu ...
Katsusuke Atobe
Noboru Shimizu ...
Masatane Hara
Sen Yamamoto ...
Nobushige Oyamada
Shuhei Sugimori ...
Masanobu Kosaka


When a powerful warlord in medieval Japan dies, a poor thief recruited to impersonate him finds difficulty living up to his role and clashes with the spirit of the warlord during turbulent times in the kingdom. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior)  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This movie set in during the Sengoku Period of Japanese history. Also known as the Warring States Period, it went from around the mid 16th Century (1500s) to the beginning of the 17th Century (1600s). It was a period of constant political turmoil, social rebellion and military war. It eventually resulted in the creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate which unified regional politics and gave political stability to Japan. See more »


In the final battle there are at least 100 riflemen shown firing their matchlock rifles in volleys. The smoke generated by the matchlocks almost immediately dissipates. This indicates a more modern gunpowder was used in the matchlocks as the historically correct black powder load would blanket the battlefield with thick smoke after a handful of volleys. See more »


Shingen Takeda: Even with this resemblance, Nobukado, he is so wicked as to be sentenced to crucifixion. How could this scoundrel be my double?
Kagemusha: I only stole a few coins. A petty thief. But you've killed hundreds and robbed whole domains. Who is wicked, you or I?
See more »


References You Only Live Twice (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the best serious samurai-movies
24 November 2000 | by (Vienna, Austria) – See all my reviews

This film is one of Kurosawa's masterpieces and gives an profound insight in the pre-Tokugawa period of Japan. Especially remarkable is the very elaborated atmosphere of this film to which contribute the pure and simple dialogues and the use of very well-made sceneries. Kurosawa's favorite actor Tatsuya Nakadai is here at his best. Although the atmosphere is very elaborated and almost perfectly historic; tension of the viewer is heightened by the simplicity of the scenes. Kurosawa leaves certain parts to the viewer's imagination rather than showing it. The movie is highly philosophical as well as emotionally touching and presents the soul of the way of samurai and Japan's old samurai system much better and more serious than countless cheap- and bad-made martial arts movies about samurai. This is a warning to all who expect fast martial arts action and blood covered katana. This film is a Kurosawa-style mixture between opulent costume- drama, a philosophic and tragic story and the sensitivity only Kurosawa has displaying Japan's traditional way-of-life.

38 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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