Sword of Doom is an acclaimed action film from director Kihachi Okamoto. It tells the story of a ruthless swordsman who is deadly with his sword. The fact that the central character is a very unlikeable character makes the movie different from many of the samurai films that have come out of Japan.
Ryunosuke Tsukue is this central character. He kills a man in a sword fight despite promising the man’s wife that he will give up winning if she … (read more)
Few would argue that Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors the world has ever seen. The number of masterpieces he produced is simply staggering. If you look back at the catalogue of his works, you notice that at the heart of many of these great films are partnerships with other extremely talented individuals. His long collaboration with Toshiro Mifune, for example, is usually regarded as one of the greatest director/actor partnerships in the history of cinema. Kurosawa’s work … (read more)
In his prolific and much-lauded career, Toshiro Mifune worked with director Hiroshi Inagaki even more often than he did with his more celebrated collaborator Akira Kurosawa — the best-known product of these collaborations is the Miyamoto Musashi trilogy, with Mifune playing the title character. Working for the Toho studio, Inagaki was a very well-respected writer/director during the 1950s and 60s with a bit of a specialisation in period action films: his Musashi films and his version of The 47 Ronin… (read more)
It’s not every day you get to see a film focusing on the medical response to syphilis and the emotional torment of one of the disease’s sufferers.
I can’t say this particular absence in my film viewing habits to date particularly irks me. There’s only so much a spectator can tolerate when submitted to endless studies of a pent-up and remorseful Toshiro Mifune (infected with syphilis) pining in sexual frustration over his (spotless, timid, frail, i.e. stereotyped) wife to never … (read more)
The 47 Ronin has been called Japan’s national epic, a dramatic legend based on real events at the beginning of the 18th century. These events almost immediately inspired both kabuki and bunraku plays, some of which are still performed today. In addition, the story of the 47 Ronin has been filmed many times, a testament to its popularity inside Japan and abroad. Most popular amongst the film adaptations are Kenji Mizoguchi’s wartime version, released in 1941, and this version: Toho … (read more)
Fans of Japanese cinema and excellent cinema in general should be no strangers to the works of Akira Kurosawa. Regular readers will have seen me (and others here, too!) swoon and spout hyperbole over many of his films. With good reason, mind you — many of them have become fixtures in critics’ lists of top films: action masterpiece The Seven Samurai, lone samurai classics Yojimbo and Sanjuro, study in truth Rashomon and the colour-drenched epic Ran in particular.
Shamelessly, … (read more)
“I don’t care if it’s a lie, as long as it’s entertaining.” — the commoner in response to the woodcutter and the priest’s accounts of the murder.
So here we have it, a movie featuring a completely unreliable plot that never provides a factual answer to the crucial murder mystery at its core, that pieces together falsehoods, speculations and fabricated accounts one after another, that boldly misdirects viewers right through to its conclusion, and yet has somehow managed to absorb … (read more)
Hiroshi Inagaki’s celebrated third Samurai film, Duel at Ganryu Island, brings to a close his series chronicling the life of historical figure Musashi Miyamoto. The first film, Musashi Miyamoto, followed the young villager Takezo as he sought fame and fortune in battle. The second, Duel at Ichijoji Temple, tells the story of his enlightenment and induction into the world of the samurai. In the third film, Musashi is known throughout Japan and sought after as both a … (read more)