The tragic story of Gonza, a handsome ladies man, set in the Tokagawa Period, a time in which appearences are very important. Gonza competes with Bannojo for the honor to perform the tea ... See full summary »
Loyal samurai Samanosuke is attacked, mutilated, and left for dead while carrying out a mission for his clan. He recovers but has lost an eye and an arm. Taking a new identity as Tange ... See full summary »
Gennosuke, a clan retainer, kills one of the clan ministers as part of a plot to achieve reform. He is pursued by his former comrades, each hoping to complete the vendetta put on Gennosuke ... See full summary »
A young samurai, Shojuro Sako, travels on the Tokaido to Edo with his two servants, Genta and Gonpachi. Gonpachi has been told by Shojuro's mother to prevent his Master from drinking... See full synopsis »
The day before Japan announces its defeat in WW2, a very ill Shusaku arrives in Okayama. He meets Shinko, an innkeeper, who inadvertently gives him the will to live as he spies her crying ... See full summary »
A crippled kabuki player is taken into a strolling company of itinerant actors. An influential publisher notices his honest, bold drawings, and nurtures him despite persecution and betrayal... See full summary »
Opens with a journalist reporting on the 1997 Kobe earthquake, as he remembers a trip made as a young boy. Then, he and family took a boat trip from Awaji to Beppu in order to bury the ... See full summary »
Intellectual but sometimes confusing political thriller
This rarely-seen Japanese film centres around a mysterious wandering ronin Hachiro Kiyokawa (Tetsuro Tanba) as he juggles between the Shogunate and the Emperor sympathisers in 19th-century Japan. As the pre-credits text informs us (in detail), four American warships arrived in 1853, upsetting the political balance in Japan, as the country divides into the Liberal Shogunate, and the Imperialists who want all foreign influence banished. Kiyokawa's story is told by various supporting players in flashback and the film jumps around a detailed timeline. We never know or fully understand Kiyokawa's intentions and political preference as he proves unpredictable and at time, extremely ruthless.
The film is more of a political thriller than a traditional samurai film, full of conversations in dark rooms, back-stabbings, bargains and power-shifts. Director Masahiro Shinoda never feels like he has to make it easy for the audience to follow, as the large cast of minor players are never fully developed enough, so it's difficult to keep up with who is who. This, I feel, works both for and against the film. It is on one hand highly intelligent and intellectually stimulating, but on the other hand it allows the plot to become convoluted. It's a shame because I would like to have had time to soak up the mysterious atmosphere, and the beautiful cinematography on show. It is though, as a whole, a very good film, and one I will watch again when I get the chance, in order to wrap my tiny brain around the complex plot.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?