This movie is sort of a sequel/sister film to Port Arthur(1980) with much the same cast and crew, director Toshio Masuda and effects director Teruyoshi Nakano. The story is told from 3 perspectives in 3 parts. You have Minister of War Hideki Tojo, played masterfully by one of my absolute favorites Tetsuro Tamba, who gives a very sympathetic performance as it shows Tojo as a family man in addition to being the minister of war. Second is Kokichi Kobayashi, who gets married right before war begins and must stay with his wife throughout. I found this to be my favorite of the three stories presented. And then there's Goichi Odajima, who plays a young Japanese Christian drafted into war. The twist presented in this one is interesting.
The film is filled with bloody violence and quite a bit of nudity from a couple female characters. It makes the film feel like an exploitation flick in addition to the serious stuff. It doesn't detract from the film in any way, just thought it'd be an interesting point to bring up.
Special effects are handled by effects master Teruyoshi Nakano, who integrates the actors quite well with the effects footage via green screen that is barely noticeable. The miniatures all look nice and a bit of stock footage is used from Pearl Harbor film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).
The film's third act deals with something rarely shown in Japanese film; the war crimes trial Japanese troops underwent. The acting from all sides is great here, and you may find yourself tearing up at points like I did.
Masuda does something very brazen and has Emperor Hirohito portrayed with his face shown by a master actor. Masuda had little respect for military authority, and was actually expelled from the kamikaze for being a liberal. I can't help but wonder how Japanese censors reacted to this.
Overall a fantastic film, not to be missed for fan of World War II movies or Japanese cinema fans in general!
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