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Hitokiri (1969)

A destitute ronin allies himself with an established clan, but its ruthless leader tries to turn him into a mindless killer.


Hideo Gosha


Ryôtarô Shiba (based on the novel by), Shinobu Hashimoto (screenplay)




Credited cast:
Shintarô Katsu ... Izo Okada
Tatsuya Nakadai ... Hanpeita Takechi
Yukio Mishima ... Shinbei Tanaka
Yûjirô Ishihara ... Ryoma Sakamoto
Mitsuko Baishô Mitsuko Baishô ... Onimo
Takumi Shinjo Takumi Shinjo ... Minakawa
Noboru Nakaya Noboru Nakaya ... Kintoki Anegakoji
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jin'ichirô Andô Jin'ichirô Andô
Takeshi Date Takeshi Date ... Rônin patrol leader
Tatsuo Fujimori Tatsuo Fujimori
Ren Fukuyama Ren Fukuyama
Kin'ichi Hagimoto Kin'ichi Hagimoto
Ken Hatano Ken Hatano
Jirô Higashioo Jirô Higashioo
Sôtarô Ibuki Sôtarô Ibuki


Izo Okada, a ronin (masterless samurai), desperately seeks a way out of his financial straits. He allies himself with the Tosa clan under the ruthless leader, Takechi, and imagines that he has come up in the world. But Takechi makes Izo a killer and a puppet, filled with self-loathing and a need to stop Takechi. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | History


Did You Know?


Yukio Mishima's character commits seppuku and one year later, Mishima himself will commit the same way of ritual suicide. See more »


Version of Izo (2004) See more »

User Reviews

Beautiful, very violent, complicated and effective historical drama
12 April 2008 | by ChungMoSee all my reviews

Gosha's last great film of the 1960's. A resolute stylist with a great sense of purpose to his films, Gosha teamed up with Shintaro Katsu (of Zatoichi fame) to produce this scathing indictment of mindless nationalist loyalty.

"Tenchu" (heavenly judgment) is the word that the loyalists to the emperor yell while assassinating enemies or "traitors" to the cause. Katsu plays up his character' simple minded allegiance to a manipulative politician all in the name of patriotic pride. Anybody who questions the politician is labeled a "traitor" and becomes an assassination target.

One of the best photographed films ever, many shots are incredible compositions of form, color and light. The fight scenes are frequent and very bloody and brutal. The blood becomes a part of the color palette Gosha uses for his images. Gorgeous and disturbing. While the personal story is simple to follow, the historical background is complicated and while a basic history lesson for this time in Japan would be very helpful you can struggle through the film without it. The few drawbacks to the film are the music track, the length and Katsu's occasional scenery chewing. He has a drunken scene that's way over the top for a film but actually a very accurate depiction of a drunk.

Downbeat but one of the great chambara films.

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Release Date:

February 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tenchu! See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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