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Samurai Assassin (1965)

Samurai (original title)
February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled ... See full summary »


Kihachi Okamoto


Shinobu Hashimoto (screenplay), Jiromasa Gunji (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Toshirô Mifune ... Tsuruchiyo Niiro
Keiju Kobayashi Keiju Kobayashi ... Einosuke Kurihara
Michiyo Aratama ... Okiku / Kikuhime
Yûnosuke Itô ... Kenmotsu Hoshino
Eijirô Tôno ... Masagorô Kisoya
Tatsuyoshi Ehara Tatsuyoshi Ehara ... Ichigoro Hayama
Tadao Nakamaru Tadao Nakamaru ... Shigezo Inada
Kaoru Yachigusa ... Mitsu
Haruko Sugimura ... Tsuru
Nami Tamura Nami Tamura ... Yae
Shirô Ôtsuji Shirô Ôtsuji ... Kaname Kojima
Yoshio Inaba Yoshio Inaba ... Keijiro Sumita
Akihiko Hirata ... Sohei Masui
Hideyo Amamoto ... Matazaburo Hagiwara
Ikio Sawamura Ikio Sawamura ... Tatsukichi Bisenya


February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled Japan for 300 years. They suspect a traitor in their midst, and their suspicions fall on Niiro, an impoverished ronin who dreams of samurai status, and Kurihara, an aristocratic samurai who befriends Niiro. Niiro longs to identify his father, knowing he is a high-ranking official who will disclose himself only if Niiro achieves samurai status. With American ships in Japan's harbors, cynicism among the assassins, and change in the air, Niiro resolves to reach ends that may prove ephemeral. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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The film takes place from February 17 to March 3, 1860. See more »


[Einosuke goes to the Sagamiya House, and enters the room where Tsuruchiyo is staying. He finds Tsuruchiyo lying flat on his back on the floor, surrounded by sake bottles and snoring like a drain]
Einosuke Kurihara: Niiro.
[Tsuruchiyo doesn't wake up. Einosuke shakes the sleeping swordsman's shoulder]
Einosuke Kurihara: Niiro.
[Tsuruchiyo wakes up with a grunt. He heaves himself up]
Tsuruchiyo Niiro: Ugh... what's up?
Einosuke Kurihara: What do you mean, "what's up"? I heard from Kojima Kaname that you're here all the time, so I became worried. Come on, let's go home.
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References Sanjuro (1962) See more »

User Reviews

Dull; that is, up until the final sequence
20 April 2002 | by zetesSee all my reviews

I am rather disappointed in Kihachi Okamoto's Samurai Assassin. I am a huge fan of his 1966 film, Sword of Doom, which is, as far as I'm concerned, the best "pure" samurai film, at least on the same level as anything by Kurosawa. Samurai Assassin was made the previous year. It is about a siege around Edo castle, and concentrates on one warrior, played by Toshiro Mifune, who desperately wants to become a samurai. He has been turned down in the past, though, because his mother was a geisha and his father was unknown.

The script is the main culprit here. It's far too slow, and far too many names are dropped. For an American, anyway, it becomes increasingly difficult to process so many multi-syllabic Japanese names. Eventually, I didn't care at all about what was happening. Okamoto was obviously trying to go for the type of slow-build that was achieved, for example, in Misaki Kobayashi's excellent Sepukku (aka Hara-kiri, 1962), but the script is far too wordy.

For most of the 2 hour 2 minute run, I was just concentrating on the beautiful cinematography. The black and white in this film is truly exquisite. A few good scenes managed to pop up here and there. Fortunately, Samurai Assassin ends on a fantastic note. The final samurai battle is one of the best I've ever seen. Okamoto uses snow as a prop as well as Kurosawa uses rain (there is a great snow battle in Sword of Doom, as well), and the level of dramatic irony equals some of the best Greek tragedies. My final judgement: Samurai Assassin is worth watching if you are a fan of samurai movies, but it is not a high priority. It is definitely a don't-see for anyone who has never seen one of these films before (start with Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Hidden Fortress for starters) or anyone who is unsure of whether they would be entertained by something like this. 7/10.

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Release Date:

5 March 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Samurai Assassin See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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