Kenji Misumi Is Missed, but the Third Film Offers Fitting Conclusion
The third film in The Daibosatsu Toge trilogy starring Ichikawa Raizo as the murderous anti-hero Ryunosuke Tsukue offers a fitting conclusion to the series in spite of some problems.
The biggest problem is that Kenji Misumi does not return to the director's chair. Kazuo Mori, a workmanlike director, takes over. Gone are the bright colors of the first two films. Also, missing is some of the poetry. Throughout the series, Ryunosuke has been beset by sounds and visions of those he has killed. Misumi used voices, a shadow on a wall, to present Ryunosuke's mental deterioration. However, here, director Kazuo Mori gives the audience spectral, deformed figures like in a horror movie. It is a very literal approach, and I missed Misumi's subtler hand.
Another disappointment is the way the third film seems, at least for most of its running time, to be an intriguing, stand alone samurai story, but in the last twenty minutes rushes to a conclusion for the whole series, with some of the major characters absent from the scene/film.
In spite of these, I liked the main story with Ryunosuke getting involved with a corrupt lord and a deformed, wealthy woman. As always, Ichikawa Raizo is marvelous as Ryunosuke. He always had me watching.
I had read about this film's ending in one of Chris D.'s articles on samurai films published in the mid-1990's in Cult Movies magazine (these articles helped get me interested in samurai films). I was waiting in anticipation for the climax. Well, it wasn't exactly the way I had pictured it (Kenji Misumi would have done it better), but it was still a good send off for the murderous Ryunosuke Tsukue.
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