The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
In the World War II, the pacifist and humanist Japanese Kaji accepts to travel with his wife Michiko to the tiny Manchurian village Loh Hu Liong to work as supervisor in an iron ore mine to avoid to be summoned to the military service. Kaji works with Okishima (Sô Yamamura) and he implements a better treatment to the laborers and improves the mine production. When the feared Kempetai (The "Military Police Corps", the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945) brings six hundred Chinese POWs to the mine, Kaji negotiates with their leaders expecting them to control their comrades. However the methods of Kaji upset the corrupt system in the site, and the foreman Furuya (Kôji Mitsui) plots a scheme to use the naive Chen (Akira Ishihama) to turn off the electrical power of the barbwire fences to allow the prisoners to escape. When seven prisoners are falsely accused of an attempt of fleeing, a cruel Kempetai sergeant uses his sword to behead the prisoners. When ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In this film, the character of Okishima, one of the foremen of a Japanese mining camp in Manchuria during World War II, serves as a kind of mentor to the hero, Kaji, who works as a supervisor at the camp. For guidance and advice during filming, the actor who played Kaji, Tatsuya Nakadai (who had never before been cast in the leading role in a film), turned to the more seasoned actor who portrayed Okishima, Sô Yamamura, and they became close friends. Thus, the real-life relationship of Nakadai and Yamamura mirrored that of their on-screen characters. See more »
At one point a Japanese guard begins to whip Kao, yet the motions he makes are just a flailing of his arms, visibly missing the actor. Kao retaliates by throwing a rock at the guard, but the rock never strikes the guard. However, the actor playing the guard overreacts as if he has been struck. See more »
This isn't like you.
You're running away. Don't you want me?
Of course I do.
And I want you, too. Yet we can't marry-...
How many times must I explain?
Because you might be called up? I wouldn't care if it was the day after. Of course I'd cry. I'd cry bitterly. But happiness only lies in marrying the one you love.
Alright. I'll take you back to my dormitory. You'll stay with me tonight. Alright?
Yes, I'll go.
[...] See more »
A man with a conscience....doing a job that violates his lofty principles.
This is the first of three very long movies that are based on Jumpei Gomikawa's six-volume series. It is set during WWII and is about a Japanese man named Kaji. Kaji is a very liberal man for the times--something that COULD be very dangerous in the militaristic Japanese society. When he's called up to fight in the war, he's torn. He's basically a pacifist at heart and cannot see himself killing another. Luckily for him, his boss gives him a choice--report for military duty or go off to Japanese occupied territory to be the production head for a forced labor camp. Not surprisingly, he goes to work at the camp--and takes his new wife with him.
When he sees the camp, Kaji is angered--the soldiers brutalize the workers and have absolutely no regard for them. The camp is also rife with corruption. He insists that the beatings MUST stop and he is opposed by the staff--but he's not willing to budge and he has the authority to make it stick. Fortunately, when the workers are better few and treated well, production increases dramatically. However, when there are prison escapes, the hardliners press for a return to brutality. After all, they feel, these aren't exactly humans--just Chinese and Korean conscripts and, worse, Japanese political prisoners. What is Kaji to do? As the film progresses, to save himself he may need to forget about his high ideals. But, can he live with himself? And what about his marriage? Because of the job, he's withdrawn and miserable--and a lousy husband. I'd say more, but this would ruin the film.
Overall, an excellent film that is worth seeing. I am excited to see what happens in the second film, as at the end of the first there is a BIG twist and Kaji's world has been turned upside down in the process. My only question is could this film STILL be a bit sanitized? From what I've read about these camps, they were MUCH more brutal than even the film portrayed.
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