This may very well be the best Nemuri Kyoshiro I've seen to date. It's hard to tell them apart, even the good from the bad, because there's little difference or variation in themes and style from one to the next, but A Ronin Called Nemuri stands out even among those entries by Kenji Misumi and Kazuo Ikehiro. For its accomplished directing by Tokuzo Tanaka, for its beautiful visual set-pieces, for its gruelling swordfights in dimly lit woods and snow-covered streets, this in itself a staple of 60's chambara and while the movie never quite transcends the Daiei b-chambara limitations, it works brilliantly within them, from a convoluted script about two chamberlains and their armed factions vying with each other for control of the Saeki clan while Nemuri has stumbled into some sort of conspiracy and has to fight assassins around every corner, all these somehow coming together in the end to offer even a touch of poignant emotion as a son straggles to kill his already dead father. Make no mistake though; the movie is still cold and ruthless as Nemuri Kyoshiro films usually are and don't we love it for just that? For Raizo Ichikawa's cold and alienated badass, here looking paler than ever, and the way he remains a selfserving cynical bastard even when he does the right thing.
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