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When Sergeant Okubo's brother is murdered at a Japanese outpost in Northern China during the Second World War, Okubo poses as a war correspondent and seeks out his brother's killer. The command is wiped out by Chinese forces and Okubo escapes and joins a tribe of bandits.Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the 50's there were two common kind of war movies in Japan about WW2: the truly anti-war, humanist films and the "anti-war" flicks that would still hold a bit of patriotic spice, focusing more in military aspects and in the spectacle. This movie is neither of them.
Desperado Outpost, written and directed by famed director Kihachi Okamoto - who would go to make many other memorable war films during his career - is basically the result of mixing a western with a detective story and with WW2 set as backdrop. The very first scene of the movie shows it: our protagonist is resting in the grass, with his saddle as pillow. Suddenly, he gets up and jumps to the back of his horse, riding it into the wild Chinese steppes.
Sergeant Okubo - masterly played by a cheeky Makoto Satô - is our Lone Ranger. After hearing about his older brother apparent suicide in a remote Japanese frontline outpost, he rides his horse across the vastness of Northern China to uncover the true of it. He first stops at the frontier town of Shogunbyo, which is like any frontier town on a cowboy movie, with brothel and jail, and which serves as frontline headquarters. There, Okubo meets many colorful characters, as you might expect. The responsible for the place, a sadist lieutenant who took over command after the former commander gone mad, tells Okubo about the so called "Desperado Outpost". The outpost is the most dangerous sector, isolated in the middle of enemy territory, and is guarded by Company 90, a unit made up with the army's troublemakers and other problematic types. Okubo proceeds to the infamous outpost to continue his investigation, and there he meets even more colorful characters. Aside from that, we will also have a drama with an old love, Chinese bandits roaming around, the Chinese communist army to play the part of the indians and even a gun duel. So, again, basically your classic western film package.
Don't come expecting criticism about Japan's role in the War or what they did or didn't done in Chinese territory, or even the drama of people catch by the war. This is an adventure movie, packed with black humor and cynicism. And it's pretty good and entertaining exactly because of that.
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