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Araki Mataemon: Kettô kagiya no tsuji (1952)

Mataemon Araki, a renowned swordsman, helps a young man find vengeance.


Kazuo Mori


Akira Kurosawa
2 wins. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Toshirô Mifune ... Mataemon Araki
Yuriko Hamada Yuriko Hamada
Takashi Shimura ... Jinzaemon Kawai
Akihiko Katayama Akihiko Katayama
Minoru Chiaki
Daisuke Katô ... Rokusuke
Shin Tokudaiji Shin Tokudaiji
Kokuten Kôdô
Bokuzen Hidari
Toranosuke Ogawa


The film begins with an explosive action scene where a lone samurai fights and slays dozens of enemy swordsmen, but that is neither the story nor what happened. Mataemon Araki, a legendary samurai and the subject of many a tale and film adaptations, is instead a cunning strategist and can deploy strategy and patience alongside his command of the blade. Here he helps set a trap in order to exact revenge for one who mourns. Written by aghaemi

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Release Date:

3 January 1952 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Vendetta of a Samurai See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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Innkeeper's wife: My hands are like ice.
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User Reviews

No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy
22 August 2018 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

This is a revisionist work. It starts off by showing a samurai flick version of a battle in which a noble samurai kills thirty-six of his enemies single-handedly, and then pauses. That's not what really happened, we're told. The real story is much more interesting.

And so we get to watch as Toshiro Mifune helps a young, untested samurai gain his vengeance, along with his loyal retainers. It's a slow movie, because first they have to find the guy, and that takes half the movie, and then we watch the actual battle, which doesn't go as planned.

It's a very odd movie from the pen of Akira Kurosawa, in part because he's the only credited writer -- he always liked to work with collaborators -- and the actual director is Kazuo Mori, who likes a lot more symbolism in his movies. Nonetheless, you can tell it's a Kurosawa picture. Not only is Mifune in it, but also Shimura, Daisuke Katô and Bokuzen Hidari, all of whom would appear in THE SEVEN SAMURAI and many other Kurosawa films. Mori himself would direct another movie from an unused Kurosawa script.

It's a theoretically interesting deconstruction of the movie samurai image. Only Mifune is professional; the others, when the moment comes, don't measure up to the image from hundreds of movies.... but neither do the bad guys. Nonetheless, the movie doesn't measure up as a movie. The characters aren't individuals, the situations along the way aren't interesting and cinematographer Kazuo Yamazaki shoots Toho's back lot in a way that lets you know that you're on Toho's back lot.

Perhaps that's part of the demolition job. Despite Mifune's histrionics, it just doesn't work. Maybe that's why Kurosawa handed the megaphone over to the guy who would become best known for directing the Zatoichi movies and started work on what would become the greatest samurai flick of all time.

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