Kagemusha (1980)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  6 October 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 22,332 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?


To secure part of the funding required to make the film, Akira Kurosawa teamed up with the Suntory Whiskey company to create advertisements for the drink on the set of "Kagemusha". These advertisements are included as extras on the Criterion edition DVD. See more »


When Kagemusha is being ejected from the Takeda clan compound, he is seen with his left arm in a dark purple-colored cloth sling, which covers most of his hand and forearm. As the camera shot changes to a slightly longer shot, the sling is suddenly much narrower, exposing much more of his hand and forearm. See more »


Shingen Takeda: To occupy Kyoto, to fly my flags in the capital, has been my long-cherished dream. But... if something should happen to me, do not pursue that dream. Remember: my death must not be made known. Keep it a secret, for at least three years. Guard our domain. Never move from it. Do not move! If you ignore my order and set out to attack, our Takeda clan will be no more. Heed my words! This... is my final wish.
See more »


References In Like Flint (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Great Mature Kurosawa Film
15 November 2004 | by (san francisco) – See all my reviews

I am a fan of Kurosawa and have seen many of his films many times. There is a sweep and an ache to Kagemusha that is genuine and has remained in my heart's memory. Unlike Ran, it is not Shakespearean. Unlike Seven Samurai, my favorite all-time film and I believe the best film ever made, it is not a western.

Although epic, it is about a sweet and rueful soul swallowed by karma and history. It is redemptive without overt sentiment, and the lead performance by Tatsuya Nakadai is nuanced and unforgettable.

I will always remember this film, not for its complexity or savagery, but for the simplest moments between Lord and subject, between the highest self and the lowest self, and most particularly, the very real pain of a man caught in the vise of his own life and death.

50 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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