Hanzo is an incorruptible and unorthodox officer in Edo, as famous for his self-discipline and his love shaft as his sword. Against the backdrop of his magistrate's occasional rounding up ... See full summary »
Nemuri Kyoshiro, a youthful and cynical ronin with unparalleled skill, is approached by both sides in a game of corruption, ambition, and double crosses. The leader of the Kaga clan, who ... See full summary »
Cowritten by star Shintaro Katsu, this adventure pits Zatoichi against one of his most diabolical foes: a blind yakuza boss whose reign of terror and exploitation has made him nearly mythic... See full summary »
After an artist is threatened by the yakuza into creating valuable but highly illegal pornography, the law aims to execute him. Zatoichi, having been honor bound to protect the man and his family, must now run against the law.
Izo Okada, a ronin (masterless samurai), desperately seeks a way out of his financial straits. He allies himself with the Tosa clan under the ruthless leader, Takechi, and imagines that he ... See full summary »
Sword Devil is largely typical early-to-mid sixties Daiei Studios stuff, with good marquee value (Misumi-Ichikawa) but nothing we haven't seen better elsewhere. A genre b-movie with standard plotting then, SD plays out with little in the way of surprise but still fairly entertaining within the boundaries it sets up for itself. Hanpei is born to a servant of the mad Lady of the clan and a dog, or so the legend goes, and so dog-son is his nickname. The opening credits sequence is almost a direct copy of the one from Kurosawa's STRAY DOG, the stray dog (nora inu) standing in as a very common symbolic reference for the ronin drifter in the chambara field and one Kurosawa himself used in YOJIMBO. Indeed Hanpei is defined as a typical genre outcast, an alienated character on the fringes of society (as the old man taking care of him says before he dies "you're not even considered a human "), but unlike other characters of that ilk Hanpei starts out as a doormat type of character, shy and timid and with no swordsman skills whatsoever. Instead of being a laconic badass as one would expect, Hanpei is employed as a florist tending the gardens of the local daimyo. His transformation from timid gardener to sword devil starts with him learning the sword from a ronin practicing in the woods and climaxes in a hack-and-slash battle where he chops down two dozen of his own clan's vassals, them hell-bent on revenge, and rightfully fulfills the title's lurid promise. Kudos goes to Raizo Ichikawa for his portrayal of Hanpei; he shows formidable acting chops and proves he can do likable and goodie just as good as the darker, more nihilistic characters he played around the same era (Nemuri Kiyoshiro, Ryunosuke Tsukue).
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