Yataro Tanigawa, a one-eyed hired assassin, impresses yakuza boss Gomyo Kiyoemon with his skill. Gomyo hires Tanigawa as his bodyguard, or yojimbo, to protect him during an inter-clan ... See full summary »
After going to prison for killing the boss of the Kanno gang, a gangster gets released early - only to find that his ex-gang has merged with the Kannos. But with bitter resentments lingering on both sides, bloodshed is bound to begin anew.
This is the last but one film by Hideo Gosha and unfortunately it does not hold a candle to his earlier works such as Goyokin or Hitokiri. The essential problem here is (in my opinion) a very bad screenplay. The story takes an implausible turn in the second half and much of the dialogue seems to be cut out straight from a second-rate women's romance. Not to mention gratuitous nudity and even a soft porn-like sex scene. The result is a cinematically well executed but otherwise unremarkable entertainment with a simple good vs evil plot.
SPOILER ALERT The gist of the story is as follows: A young girl called Orin witnesses murder of her gambler-father for cheating. Orin is then adopted by a well-off restaurant owner and his wife. When her younger brother (a biological son of the couple) is bullied because of her background, the then teenage Orin decides to leave her loving family and somehow becomes an accomplished gambler herself. A (yakuza?) boss wants Orin to represent him in an upcoming big-time card game tournament. While en route there she runs into her now grown up brother and learns that his family have lost all their property to gambling debt. Orin thus decides to buy the restaurant back for her brother with the money she hopes to win. Needless to say the new restaurant owner Otaki and his mistress are very wicked people indeed and we are constantly reminded how evil they are. In order to win the aforementioned card tournament they hire the best gambler in Japan, Tsunejiro "the Immovable", to play on their behalf. Predictably, the final round of the card game comes down to Orin against Tsune. But there's a bizarre twist: not only we learn that it was Tsune who murdered Orin's father some twenty years ago but this impervious, poker-faced character who ignores women even when they throw themselves on him suddenly falls head over heels in love with Orin, and she willingly reciprocates his feelings. A dramatic as well as melodramatic finale follows. END OF SPOLER ALERT
What keeps the movie afloat are the visuals, good pacing and for the most part decent acting. I was particularly impressed by Tatsuya Nakadai's portrayal of Tsune. Not that this role is memorable in any way. Rather, despite the cheesy lines inflicted by the scriptwriter, Nakadai with his restrained performance managed to wrestle some dignity into a painfully campy character. Even so I felt mildly embarrassed to see this superb actor in a part well below his league.
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