Zegen (1987)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 188 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 2 critic

Add a Plot


0Check in
3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Black Rain (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, based on Masuji Ibuse's novel.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Yoshiko Tanaka, Kazuo Kitamura, Etsuko Ichihara
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A down-and-out businessman travels to a seaside town, where he meets a woman with unusual sexual powers.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baishô
Why Not? (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Near the turbulent end of the Edo era, a man returning to Japan after exile in America searches for his wife and becomes swept up in the current of revolution in this incisive period drama from the great Shohei Imamura.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Shigeru Izumiya, Kaori Momoi, Masao Kusakari
The Eel (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A businessman kills his adulterous wife and is sent to prison. After the release, he opens a barbershop and meets new people, talking almost to no one except an eel he befriended while in prison.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Kôji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baishô
Dr. Akagi (1998)
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

At the end of WWII, Japanese doctor Akagi searches for the cure for hepatitis in the prisoner-of-war camp.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Akira Emoto, Kumiko Asô, Juro Kara
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a poor 19th century rural Japanese village, everyone who reaches the age of 70 has to climb a nearby mountain to die. An old woman is getting close to the cut-off age, and we follow her last days with her family.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto, Tonpei Hidari
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A housewife living under her tyrannical husband has her life stressfully turned upside down after getting raped by a burglar.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Masumi Harukawa, Kô Nishimura, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Life story of a woman born in poverty trying to succeed. Through her many schemes, she faces her ups and downs in a cyclical nature, fueled mostly by self-interest.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Emiko Aizawa, Setsuko Amamiya, Tomio Aoki
Certificate: GP Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An engineer from Tokyo arrives on a drought-ridden tropical island to drill a well to power a nearby sugar mill. He meets the inbred Futori family, hated by the locals for breaking religious customs.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Chôichirô Kawarasaki, Kazuo Kitamura
Stolen Desire (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A rumbunctious and ribald tale of a troupe of travelling actors who alternate highlights of kabuki theatre with strip shows.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Osamu Takizawa, Shin'ichi Yanagisawa, Hiroyuki Nagato
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Being a faithful 'company man', Yoshikawa moves steadily ahead within the Toho corporation. But Kaji, his old friend, makes his way through the dark side of the social world, working for a ... See full summary »

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Hiroyuki Nagato, Kayo Matsuo, Takeshi Okimura
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

While his wife and children are away on holiday, a henpecked, daydreaming pharmacist begins a flirtatious relationship with the pretty girl in the boutique opposite. Almost a Japanese screwball comedy.

Director: Shôhei Imamura
Stars: Frank Nagai, Shin'ichi Yanagisawa, Hisano Yamaoka


Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Ogata ...
Iheiji Muraoka
Mitsuko Baishô ...
Chun Hsiung Ko ...
Wang (as Chun-Hsiung Ko)
Norihei Miki ...
Hiroyuki Konishi ...
Sanshô Shinsui ...
Tetta Sugimoto ...
Taiji Tonoyama ...
Leonard Kuma ...
Shop owner
Fujio Tokita ...
Minori Terada ...
Chôichirô Kawarasaki ...
Mami Kumagaya ...
Shino Ikenami ...
Maiko Kazama


Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

5 September 1987 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

O Imperador dos Bordéis  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

6 October 2010 | by See all my reviews

Japanese director Shôhei Imamura may be best known for his cold and serious films, but over the course of his career he also tackled comedy, albeit in a very dark manner. One of his later films, Zegen tells the reality-based story of Iheiji Muraoka (Ken Ogata), a poor Japanese man who immigrates to Hong Kong at the turn of the 20th century to seek work in order to slowly regain the past glory of his family. Making a living as a barber at first, Muraoka is soon recruited to work as a spy against the Russians and develops an extremely strong sense of patriotism after to the example of his commander, Captain Uehara (Hiroyuki Konishi). After semi-accidentally becoming a human trafficker, he gets the idea of setting up brothels for the benefit of the Emperor, eventually expanding his businesses across South-East Asia. The changing political climate keeps causing troubles for his ventures, however.

Imamura tells the tale of the "Japanese Dream" of booming pre-war economics through exaggeration and satire: Muraoka's obsessive attempts of honouring his country are seen as fussy and comical and the constant presence of giggling prostitutes also strengthens the sense of laughableness that surrounds Imamura's trusted actor Ken Ogata in the lead role. On the other hand, the relationship of Iheiji's sensible lover Shiho (Mitsuko Baisho), also a prostitute, and a rivaling pimp Wang (Chun Hsiung Ko) brings a feel of sadness in the story, as does the general idea of girls leaving their homes or being kidnapped to work as prostitutes overseas, even if the characters are too keen on their daily bumblings to ever realize it. The satirical aspects become perhaps the most obvious during the final 15 minutes or so, when Muraoka has finally lost his grip on reality in the pressures of honour. At this point, he has moved from laughable to pathetic – Imamura's commentary on economy and patriotism replacing common sense is not left unclear.

True to his style, Imamura doesn't do much to cover up the omnipresent sexuality and casual nudity that defines the lives of the women in the brothels. The yellowish hues of many interior scenes create a mood of crampedness that is contrasted by beautiful outdoor shots of things like blizzards, sunsets or fog during Muraoka's trips outside his brothels. Besides the well-thought visuals, the music by Shinichirô Ikebe fits in the mood too, although used rather sparingly.

Even though the loud style of acting takes some time to get used to and the story feels a tad too long at over two hours, in the end I think the colourful performances and the period piece atmosphere are worth seeing for friends of Japanese cinema. Since the theme of uncontrollable urge for entrepreneurship is still very relevant too, Zegen can be recommended to those interested in Imamura's development as a director, even though personally I still prefer the more intimate Unholy Desire (1964), his cruel but excellent examination of emotional abuse in relationships.

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD? moviesucks
Discuss Zegen (1987) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: