Wicked Priest #4 is fun. Starring our friend from the Baby cart series, the film is easy enough to follow without having seen the first three wicked priest films. Wakayama plays Shinkai, a priest who cheats, gambles, drinks and can't stay away from the women, but seems to get the broader important stuff right (in this film, he fights to improve the wages of impoverished coal workers). If you're tuning in for Bunta Sugawara, however, be forewarned that his role is pretty small, and he doesn't even show up until the last 30 minutes. I haven't seen the other Wicked Priest films, but I assume Bunta is left over from one of them, as they don't explain his relationship to Shinkai at all. Towards the end of the film, Wakayama basically turns into Zatoichi, whose character he has resembled all along. The blind fighting style he ends up developing mirrors Zatoichi's, and seeing as this film came eight years after Zatoichi showed up, it is likely this film was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of that series (after all, Wakayama starred in several of them himself). By the way, the roaming samurai elements almost completely obscure the minor Yakuza subplot. This is no Fukasaku film.
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