New magistrate cleans up a corrupt town in his own comic Samurai way.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Yûko Asano ...
Kosei
Tsurutarô Kataoka ...
Hanzô Yasukawa
Ryûdô Uzaki ...
Giyoro Senba
Hideji Ôtaki
Saburô Ishikura
Bunta Sugawara ...
Nadahachi
Renji Ishibashi ...
Saibei
Shigeru Kôyama
Takeshi Katô
Isao Bitô
Tsuyoshi Ujiki
Noboru Mitani
Nekohachi Edoya
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Storyline

Samurai Koheita Mochizuki, who goes by the nickname Dora-Heita, meaning "alley cat" or "playboy," pretends to be an alcoholic magistrate but is in actuality an envoy from the daimyo sent to clean up the corrupt and lawless town. His task is complicated by the unexpected arrival of his mistress Kosei. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Action | Crime

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Release Date:

13 September 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alley Cat  »

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1.85 : 1
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Connections

Remake of Machibugyô nikki: Tekka botan (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Engaging and amusing, though slightly disjointed.
7 July 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As a random pick from the shelves of a Japanese DVD store, largely chosen simply on the basis of having English subtitles and the words 'Kon Ichikawa' in big roman letters, the list of names attached to Dora-heita comes as quite a surprise, though it never really stacks up against the best work of any of its four writers. Which is not to say it's a bad film; far from it. It is, though, a rather uneven one...

The story is solid enough; Mochizuki Koheita is the newly appointed magistrate in a small rural fiefdom, sent to clean up the corrupt town of Horisoto in his own unorthodox way, facing off against a trio of gang bosses and the complacent and complicit council. In the lead, Koji Yakusho plays the part perfectly, making Koheita both genuinely likable and credibly hard-nosed. Support ranges from the fairly good to the utterly mediocre, though none of the actors come off too badly. The strongest scenes of the film are those set in the streets of Horisoto, Mochizuki's first visit to the slum being the most striking sequence in terms of visual flair. Elsewhere, there are a few great scenes; the visit to Nadahachi's abode in particular, despite the paint-by-numbers action scene that follows.

It's certainly a film with plenty to keep the viewer's attention, but it never really coagulates into a sleek, unified whole. There are problems with some of the comedy elements and with the Kosei character, both of which feel as though they were shoehorned in at the last minute, in the misguided fear of putting off viewers with too serious a story. In actual fact, it would probably be possible to cut Kosei out completely; contrary to expectations, she actually has no connection at any point to the main thread of the story, instead providing only a couple of laughs, an underwhelming brawl with some smugglers and a penultimate scene that errs the wrong side of ridiculous.

Still, it's entertaining enough, though it'd be best not to have too high expectations simply because of the names on the screenplay...


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