- 11973“ Follows the fluctuating fortunes of three friends in feudal Japan who are ronin: masterless warriors, who wander from castle to castle, selling their services to whichever lord will fill their rice bowls. These are not the YOJIMBO Super Samurai but rather the rank and file, the spear-carriers. The irony is that even though they use the servants' entrance, they still feel themselves bound by the samurai code of Bushido; and this tension leads to tragedy. „
- 21965“ When Mondonosuke, a young sword student has a bad dream about his sensei being killed in a duel, he decides to return to Edo to see if he needs help. In the 3 years since he left, he has mastered the secret sword style "Sadanami-giri", that was begun by Sir Ikkaku, who had taken Mondonosuke under his wing after he had been expelled from Master Katakura Ikkansai's Dojo. „
- 31963“ A dangerous pact has been signed by Tadanaga, the son of Shogun Hidetada, to prevent his brother Iemitsu from becoming the third Shogun. In a time where highly skilled ninja organizations carry out secret missions, Iga Jigoza's group of seventeen ninja must find a way to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold and steal the pact from Negoro ninja Saiga Magokuro „
- 41973“ In P***O PERIOD DRAMA, Tetsuro Tanba plays a nihilistic ronin who faces down the "Clan of the Forgotten Eight", who got their name because they lost all their basic emotions like conscience, gratitude, loyalty, shame etc. With his sword Onibouchou (literally: Ogre's Kitchen Knife!) Tanba's character hacks into their ranks in ways that has limbs and severed heads fly everywhere and the blood flows in rivers! On his way, he only stops to take every woman he meets, forcefully if need be! Written by Caterpillar „
- 51956“ Around a perfunctory premise of a rich merchant wishing to marry a kind-hearted young woman against her and her boyfriend's will, a plot is spun of betrayal in the highest levels of the Tokugawa shogunate. The wandering ronin Ryutaro finds himself in the middle and chooses the girl's side, pitting himself against the merchant's minions, a band of loud-mouthed yakuza and a mysterious samurai who hides his face beneath a hood and wields his sword with only one hand - using the other to nervously twirl a pair of walnuts.
The actual machinations of the plot against shogun Iemitsu that is at the heart of the proceedings remain unclear until the very end, though the title is a big clue. Nakagawa leaves the audience in the blind, drawing them into Ryutaro's investigation. He peppers the goings-on with ambivalent and off-beat characters and striking locations. Tanba's hooded, walnut-twirling samurai makes for a very peculiar villain and the actor succeeds in making the character's potentially silly nervous tic seem eerily sinister. When the hood finally comes off, the film takes a sharp turn into horror territory that announces the shape of things to come for Nakagawa. ~ from Midnight Eye
This is a highly unusual, fast and complex plot combining elements of period drama, chambara and kaidan with Nakagawa's trademark flamboyant visual touches. „
- 61955“ Special Forces commander Captain Tadamori returns to Kyoto after successfully defeating the uprising of pirates in the western sea of Japan. But because the high courtiers dislike career soldiers gaining power and influence, they ignore the will of ex-Emperor Toba and refuse to reward the captain. Reward recommender Lord Tokinobu is punished, and the captain sends his son Kiyomori to the Lord's residence, where he falls in love with Tokiko, the Lord's daughter. Meanwhile, Kiyomori finds out that he is possibly the ex-Emperor's son.. „
- 71974“ Deep in the mountains of feudal Japan, a group of children endure cruel and unorthodox training in order to become the Shogunate's most secret and deadly weapons - the Demon Spies! Their true identities are hidden - even from each other. Behind their demon masks, they are educated in the deadly arts of infiltration, espionage, assassination - and seduction! If they survive to become strong enough to kill their teachers, they will become - the Demon Spies! Sent on a suicide mission to uncover a deadly conspiracy, five inexperienced Demon Spies must infiltrate a powerful fief, discover the location of its secret arsenal, and destroy it. But Lord Shogen, the Demon Hunter, plans to brutally interrogate, ingeniously torture, and cruelly execute - the Demon Spies! Written by AnimEigo „
- 81972“ Much like its Italian brother genre, the spaghetti western, Japanese chambara of the early 70's, after the golden age of samurai cinema in the 60's, was in desperate need for a breath of fresh air, for new ways to satisfy an audience tired of the same old offerings. SHADOW HUNTERS belongs to that particular niche that saw more titillating and bloodier pulpy b-movies bordering heavily on exploitation and infused with purely comic book sensibilities. Of course all these were already staples of the genre in the 60's and Shadow Hunters, without any lofty ambitions it must be said, follows the path of Nemuri Kyoshiro and other popular low-brow chambara characters, with the violence and blood amplified and some female nudity thrown in for good measure.
The plot and dialogues never rise above comic-book pulp, as three dishonoured ronin called the Shadow Hunters come to the aid of an impoverished clan fighting to secure its f*ture against the greedy paws of an ailing Tokugawa Shogunate. Escorting an envoy of the clan en route to Edo, the three ronins hack and slice their way through Shogunate agents, ninjas and spies, leaving behind them a trail of blood and chopped limbs and pausing enough to reminisce in flashback of how the Shogunate wronged them. Nothing we haven't seen in other, better movies but still boasting a capable body count and more than enough swordplay action to please the hardened chambara aficionado.
What really detracts from it however is first the awful score, the kind of groovy jazz music one would usually encounter in pinku and yakuza films of the time and completely out of place in the context of rural 18th century Japan, and then Toshio Masuda's workmanlike-to-poor direction. Jubei's flashback of being made to act as the second (executioner) to the lord of his own clan, no more than a child, ends literally in a whirl of embarrassment. If you can ignore the above and done made your way through superior chambaras of the early 70's like the mighty LONE WOLF AND CUB series, this is good for 90 minutes of brainless fun. „
- 91972“ "Echo Of Destiny", the kinetic second film in the Shadow Hunters saga, is a tale rich in intrigue, betrayal, and gory death. Retained by a great daimyo to escort an illegal cannon to safety, three "Shadow Hunters" must carve their way through a legion of ninjas (and more of those sexy female assassins) in order to complete their mission. „
- 101964“ This is the story of a ‘Drifting Crow’, which is slang for a homeless wanderer, who seeks the murderer of his father, brutally cut down by an armed robber. The killer has eluded the authorities after pulling the job, leaving 5 guards dead on the side of the road. This collaboration between Raizo as star, and Misumi Kenji as director ranks as one of the most unique films that they did together. Exciting action right up to the thrilling climax „
- 111972“ Can a sinful man change and find peace? It's unlikely in gang-plagued Japan. Jokichi of Mikogami, a drifter (and hired sword), goes straight after protecting a woman in distress: they marry, have a son, and Jokichi pursues his father's craft. After three years, the gangs he embarrassed when he saved his wife find the family and leave Jokichi in grief, vowing revenge. To parry his terrible swift sword, rival gangs join forces, hiring a prostitute to pose as a woman needing help and breaking the code of honor to double cross the drifter. He finds unlikely allies: a thief who aids him for fun and a one-eyed swordsman who may be Jokichi's equal in skill and honor. A woman watches „
- 121972“ Thirsting for revenge, Jokichi rashly attempts to assassinate the evil Chogoro but ends up being captured by Yakuza. His life is spared by Boss Juzaburo, in order that the harmony of an important commemoration not be further disturbed. Though now even more of an outcast, Jokichi is asked by another Yakuza boss, Umezo, to guard Oyuki, the wayward daughter of Juzaburo. The tragic consequences of this assignment will lead him into a deadly trap and a final confrontation with Chogoro. „
- 131973“ In feudal Japan, women are vulnerable, in need of protection, and capable of deception. Jokichi of Mikogami, a drifter, has not yet fully revenged the death of his wife and son. He searches for Kunisada C**ji, who in turn has hired the knife-throwing Windmill Kobunji to kill him. Kobunji and Jokichi meet in the winter, near Sasago Pass, when both have rescued women: Jokichi has saved the lute-playing Oyae whose clan and whose lover want her dead; Kobunji has rescued Oharu, a well-born woman married to an innkeeper. Is this rescue a whim or something deeper? And why does Jokichi become the consumptive Kobunji's protector? What ultimately will Jokichi do about Oyae? Written by „
- 141965“ Toei Films presents a film like no other. This is the tale of three Yakuza gamblers who traveled Japan during the samurai era living by their wits and sword skills. Told in 3 separate vignettes, each part tells the story of a different drifter’s life. This is a superb film, with great action complemented by gripping stories.
Part 1: Starring Nakadai Tatsuya is the story of a man on the run after killing 2 Hasshu Officials to avenge his Boss. He must make a life or death decision as he is asked to protect a gang from attack.
Part 2: Starring Matsukata Hiroki and Shimura Takashi as a pair of gamblers chased out of a crooked game who must fight not only their pursuers, but the ghosts of their pasts as well.
Part 3: Starring Nakamura Kinnosuke as a wanderer who wants to live according to the Yakuza Code, but is not sure that he can do so when asked to save a town from an evil official. „
- 151969“ Two notorious forces in Japanese exploitation cinema before either hit their nadir. A few years later, director Ozawa was responsible for two Streetfighter films and Tomisaburo Wakayama went on to star in the Lone Wolf series. While this film doesn't rise to the questionable levels of either series, it certainly has it's moments.
Ichibei is sent by the Shogun to stop the Dutch from selling rifles to the Satsuma clan in the south. Ichibei stocks up on all his gadgets and bombs and sets out. Along the way he meets up with a cowardly ronin and a female spy who is nearly his match. We also find out he is impervious to viper venom and can turn his sword scabbard into a telescope. Intrigue and action occur as he makes his journey towards the Dutch ship carrying the armaments.
The film is tongue in cheek with obvious nods to the spy thriller and it's rather bloody. We can see glimpses of the f*ture Lone Wolf series as the overweight Tomisaburo Wakayama ably jumps, flips and slices his way thru the action scenes. There's also some pinku style woman torture for those who need this stuff. The direction is planted firmly in Japanese TV action style which sometimes is very good and other times just quickly filmed and sort of sloppy. The music is pure TV action themes and gets quite annoying unless you have an appreciation of it. The main problem with this film is that it moves at a snappy pace for the first 50 minutes and then stalls out in a number of talking samurai in discussion scenes. The last ten minutes pick up as Ichibei finally gets to the Dutch but the fun is diminished. About fifteen minutes of the film has Ichibei pose as a blind masseuse which is sort of fun since Wakayama's brother, Shintaro Katsu was playing Zatoichi at the time. This is the second film Wakayama poked fun at his more successful brother. „
- 161957“ It's special effects galore in the first film from noted director SAWASHIMA Tadashi,as the ninja of Koga and Iga Clans square off against each other. During the Age Of Wars (Sengoku Era), Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi are vying for power and each uses their secret weapons in order to try and defeat the other. Momochi Sandayu of the Iga, along with his disciple Ishikawa Goemon are ordered by Ieyasu to assassinate Hideyoshi and get the blueprints for the hidden fortress within Osaka Castle.
Meanwhile the Koga group organizes to try and defend the castle for the peace of the nation. Beating off every trick from Sandayu,Torawakamaru protects the drawing, and when Ieyasu figures out a way to hold amatch between Koga and Iga the two masters fight the greatest ninja battle ever held. The effects are truly spectacular in this classic ninja film from Toei. It has never been released on video, and this is the first opportunity to see it in the West. „
- 171962“ Lord Asano (Yuzo Kayama) won't bribe the corrupt Kira (Chusha Ichikawa), a court protocol expert who procedes to do everything possible to discredit the young and idealistic Lord. Asano is forced to pay a fortune to have a building's worth of floormats replaced overnight to pacify the selfish and greedy Kira, but he still won't bribe him. To make Asano grovel, Kira withholds vital protocol information for an important meeting. Finally Asano cannot bear the humiliation, loses his head, and attacks. He is subdued after only wounding the cowardly Kira. Drawing a sword within the Shogun's palace is a capital offense, and Asano's sentence is carried out with yet more protocol ending in a formal seppuku ceremony: Asano disembowels himself with a knife and is decapitated by a headsman.
Asano's fate isn't the end of grief; his estate and castle are forfeit, and his vassals, including his family and the 47 samurai who serve him, are left both destitute and dishonored, banished from royal life. Expecting the 47 to defend the castle in a renegade outlaw battle, the Shogun's agents are surprised when their leader, Kuranosuke Oishi (Koshiro Matsumoto) not only surrenders it, but does repairs first. The samurai scatter and those that settle nearby are the source of constant gossip. Are they really pacified, or do they secretly plot to get revenge against Kira for their lamented Lord Asano? How will honor be regained, and their conflicting obligations to their Lord and their Shogun be satisfied? „
- 181969“ The epic tales of Nemuri Kyoshiro, the "Son of the Black Mass" near their conclusion as a young Matsukata Hiroki takes over the role upon the death of Ichikawa Raizo.
Expert swordfighting abounds as the half-breed ronin runs afoul of the twin brother of the Shogun’s heir, who secretly plans to replace his brother and rule the nation. The deep running conspiracy includes some of the most powerful members of the Ruling Council. Meanwhile Kyoshiro must find a way to defeat some of the most skillful fighters he has ever faced.
Matsukata Hiroki’s swordsmanship shines as he brings the character to a new level. Brilliant and exciting! „
- 191969“ The epic tales of Nemuri Kyoshiro, the 'Son of the Black Mass' come to their ultimate conclusion with Matsukata Hiroki having taken over the role upon the death of Ichikawa Raizo. A chance meeting with another half-Caucasian ronin, leads Kyoshiro into a deadly series of encounters as he tries to save the lad's life and turn him away from the Satsuma Spy group's band of vicious assassins. The series ends on a high note as the superior sword skills of Matsukata Hiroki make this one of the most exciting motion pictures to come out of Japan. Entertainment at its finest, this is one of the most violent films of that era. A must-see! „
- 201970“ SHINSENGUMI (aka BAND OF ASSASSINS, 1970) is a large-scale Japanese samurai drama based on actual events and historical figures. It tells the tale of what is essentially a paramilitary group of citizens who become swordsmen in the service of the Shogun in his conflict with the Emperor during the final years (1863-1868) of the Tokugawa Shogunate. This conflict, precipitated by the opening of Japan to the west, paralleled America's own Civil War, which happened roughly around the same time (1861-65). The result, in Japan, was the onset of the Meiji Restoration, which led to Japan restoring the Emperor to power, adapting to new knowledge from the west, and emerging as an industrial and world power in its own right „
- 211963“ Tanba Tetsuro is 'Tange Sazen', the one-eyed, one-armed samurai master who fights for the underdogs during the Japanese age of shoguns. The amazing feats of this extraordinary man will astound you. In 1730, the Tokugawa Shogunate orders the Yagyu Clan to repair a huge shrine. Since it cannot refuse the Shogunate's request, the impoverished Yagyu Clan tries to raise funds by obtaining a sword which holds the key to a wondrous, hidden treasure. After learning the sword's secret, Tange-Sazen sides with the Yagyu Clan, but his motive seems to be more than just pure interest in the treasure... „
- 221960“ C**ji Kunisada returns to his home village to find that Jubei Matsui, the corrupt magistrate, has been responsible for virtually destroying Kunisada's family. A final tragedy leads Kunisada to join with a band of rogues living in the forest in robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, always with an eye toward avenging himself on Magistrate Matsui. The legend of Kunisada C**ji, a renowned figure of Japanese lore on a par with Robin Hood, has provided material for several movies, this one, starring the greatest samurai film star of all-time, Toshiro Mifune! (aka "Gambling Samurai") „
- 231989“ Iemitsu, Tokugawa Shogun III, hates his eldest son Takechiyo; all his love is given to his younger son Tokumatsu. One day, he orders Takechiyo to an initiation rite in Yedo (today's Tokio). Takechiyo lives far away under the surveillance of Hotta Masamori, head of the Skura clan, where he was also raised. Hotta does suspect some kind of treachery, but he can not ignore the direct command of the Shogun. Therefore, he starts on his travel with Takechiyo and seven accompanying samurais. A large army under the command of Iba Shoemon, a vassal of the Shogun, attacks their night camp in the vicinity of a copper mine. Hotta dies in this first battle, but Takechiyo and the samurai manage to escape. They are chased by the army, and several skirmishes between the small force and the larger army follow. Written by Guido Roessling „
- 241969“ Eiichi Kudo's 1969 film is the personification of the Samurai western. I have unfortunately never been able to find a print of this film, and so I have never seen it and know very little about the plot. If anyone can help me on this you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank You „
- 251959“ During the latter part of the 16th Century, Japan's Warring States era was coming to a close. While Toyotomi Hideyoshi as Regent had basically taken control of the country, wars still raged on in the north. The "Hawk of the North" Date Masamune, a daring young warrior, had crushed almost all of his enemies in the region. Then setting his eyes on Hatakeyama's lands the young warlord was about to face his greatest challenge. Ripped from the pages of Japanese history, this exciting motion picture is filled with giant battle scenes and bloody swordplay. This is one of the greatest epics from the last days of civil war, as Japan headed for the generation of peace that was to follow. „
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