- 261980“ In 1572, there is a civil war in Japan, and three powerful clans, leaded by the lords Shingen Takeda (Tatsuya Nakadai), Nobunaga Oda (Daisuke Ryu) and Ieyasu Tokugawa (Masayuki Yui), dispute the conquest of Kyoto. When Shingen is mortally wounded, the Takeda clan hides the incident and uses a poor thief to be the double of the strategist Shingen and keep the respect of their enemies. Along the years, Kagemusha incorporates the spirit of the warrior of the dead warlord. „
- 471979“ Yataro Tanigawa, a one-eyed hired assassin, impresses yakuza boss Gomyo Kiyoemon with his skill. Gomyo hires Tanigawa as his bodyguard, or yojimbo, to protect him during an inter-clan conflict. Tanigawa quickly rises in stature in the clan, but finds his boss's enemies almost overwhelming. „
- 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 „
- 341963“ In this film, alternately known as THE WORTHLESS DUEL, Musashi has just slaughtered the vile ronin and vilified the Hozoin Priests for their duplicity, when he sets off to challenge the most famous sword fighting schools in Japan, the Yagyu and the Yoshioka. As the great Grandmaster Yagyu Sekishusai is refusing to meet the young swordsmen from Yoshioka, Musashi comes along looking to challenge the masters of both schools. This is from another part in the book which was not covered at all in the SAMURAI TRILOGY, and is really critical to the understanding of Musashi’s development as a martial artist. When Sasaki Kojiro comes into the picture, the final element is there for the rest of the story to play out. But first Musashi must defeat Yoshioka Seijuro in a challenge against the successor of that famous style „
- 331962“ Also known as DUEL AT DEVIL’S MASK PASS this film begins when, after spending 3 years of study in isolation, Takezo is brought before the Clan Lord and made a Samurai. At this time he receives the new samurai name that he is to be remembered for, Miyamoto Musashi. Now he travels Japan seeking to develop his sword skill, and goes to Nara near Kyoto to learn from the Hozoin Priests about their unique method of fighting with spears. Along the way he runs afoul of a group of ronin who have been terrorizing the area, and they must meet at Devil’s Mask Pass to see who will live. None of this is in the Mifune/Inagaki version of the Musashi story, though it is one of his greatest battles „
- 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. „
- 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 „
- 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 „
- 421962“ This is the tale of seven master swordsmen who band together to play an active role against the group planning to kill the 8th Tokugawa Shogun, Yoshimune and take over his position. Included in the group are a chivalrous robber, a highly skilled magistrate, and a masterless samurai for hire, just to name a few. The screenplay is based on the novel "Kisaragi Kenshi" written by the distinguished author GOMI Yasusuke. Some of the greatest luminaries of the silver screen star in this highly entertaining production, as the Owari Clan aims to annihilate the Tokugawa Shogunate by sending men to Kodenmacho Prison to start a riot. Meanwhile, chief government magistrate O'OKA Echizen has become suspicious of what's going on, and has begun to investigate. The master of Mikazuki Castle, RYUDO Tsukinosuke, who is an official in Aki (old name for Hiroshima), and Yoshimune's best friend is called upon to help. Can he save the life of his friend, or will the evil plot win out? „
- 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. „
- 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.. „
- 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") „
- 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? „
- 401968“ Female Demon Ohyaku is the first in a trilogy of films that are often considered a precursor to the Pinky Violence film that became very popular in 1970's Japan. One of the things I love most about the Pinky films is the cinematography; and the colour schemes used in many of them are a big bonus. This early one is filmed in black and white and so doesn't benefit from a striking colour scheme; but that really doesn't hold it back in the cinematography department as this film really is beautiful! Revenge is an extremely common Pinky theme and that is the one shown here. We focus on a young girl who was almost killed by her mother as a child. She's rescued by the circus and grows up to become a tight rope walker. She later catches the attention of a local thief and the pair hook up and try to rob the local mint; but things go awry when they are caught, tortured and the man she has fallen in love with is killed. Our heroine is sent to a prison camp and forced to work in the mines; but while there she plots her revenge on those that took her man from her...
The film doesn't contain as much blood and nudity as some of the later entries in the genre; and it's an overall artier affair, but there's still more than enough here to satisfy the average Pinky Violence fan. The film moves at a steady pace throughout and is always entertaining enough; but things really pick up in the final third and last half hour of the film is not far at all from being as good as this genre gets. Director Yoshihiro Ishikawa implements a range of interesting and diverse characters into the mix; our central character is a fine balance of good looks and athletic ability and certainly fits the bill for this sort of film. Some of the most interesting scenes take place between her and the tattooist lesbian wife of the prison boss - although I do wish more was made of that relationship. Everything builds up to a bloody revenge and once Ohyaku starts to get her own way; the film is incredible. We get treated to one of the best murder scenes in any Pinky flick, followed by a nail biting torture sequence. Overall, this really is an excellent slice of classic Japanese cinema and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the rest of the trilogy!by The_Void (Beverley Hills, England) „
- 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 „
- 501964“ This is one of the bloodiest black and white films from the mid-sixties. This film tell the brutal story of a young recruit to the Shinsengumi, the para-military force of ronin led by Kondo Isami, and made famous to the west in Sword of Doom. This is another view of that group without the usual whitewashing of their character. The full translation of the title tells it all. A Cruel Story set during the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It's a powerful indictment of the brutality going on in Japan at the time in the name of keeping the West out of the country „
- 361965“ The final showdown between the two rival swordsmen comes on Funajima Island when Musashi has to somehow find a way to defeat the 37" long sword that his arch enemy Kojiro uses for his "Swallow-tail" cut. While the clan lord who backs Kojiro plans to ambush Musashi, the time is ripe for one of Musashi’s most famous tricks, that of using an oar to defeat the extremely long sword of his arrogant foe! But how can he escape the vengeance of those who are defeated? „
- 391965“ Years of warfare end in a Japan unified under the Tokugawa shogunate, and samurai spy Sasuke Sarutobi, tired of conflict, longs for peace. When a high-ranking spy named Tatewaki Koriyama defects from the shogun to a rival clan, however, the world of swordsmen is thrown into turmoil. After Sasuke is unwittingly drawn into the conflict, he tracks Tatewaki, while a mysterious, white-hooded figure seems to hunt them both. By tale’s end, no one is who they seemed to be, and the truth is far more personal than anyone suspected. Director Masahiro Shinoda’s Samurai Spy, filled with clan intrigue, ninja spies, and multiple double crosses, marks a bold stylistic departure from swordplay film convention. „
- 441958“ In the Tokugawa Era, the clan of Lord Yagyu has hidden away three scrolls containing clan secrets which, if revealed, would cause revolution and disaster for the clan. The information is divided among the three scrolls, all of which must be possessed for the secrets to be understood. When Princess Yuhime steals the scrolls, Tasaburo, a samurai with magical powers, and his brother Senshiro are sent to retrieve them. In Part II, the search for the scrolls continues. Written by Jim Beaver „
- 431957“ In the Tokugawa Era, the clan of Lord Yagyu has hidden away three scrolls containing clan secrets which, if revealed, would cause revolution and disaster for the clan. The information is divided among the three scrolls, all of which must be possessed for the secrets to be understood. When Princess Yuhime steals the scrolls, Tasaburo, a samurai with magical powers, and his brother Senshiro are sent to retrieve them. Written by Jim Beaver „
- 461962“ Fifteen years after Ishida Mitsunari lost in the battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu foresees his unavoidable battle with Toyotomi Hideyori and goes into Fushimi Castle. At the night, Hattori Hanzo, the leader of 36 Iga members who were performing as guards of the castle, perceives the existence of a ninja and captures the sneaker. Unexpectedly, the ninja turns out to be a woman, and Hanzo rapes her. Years later, when the nation is under the rule of Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogunate, a magician pair of a mother and her child appears in a busy area in Edo. The mother is the woman ninja, who is actually a daughter of Mitsunari. The pair of mother and son ninjas is waiting for the opportunity to take revenge. They learn the opportunity has come, hearing that Iemitsu will hold a martial arts tournament on the premises of one of his direct retainer, Mizuno Jurozaemon. The winner will be awarded with 10 swords that were captured from Toyotomi family’s ware- house. Wakakage, the son ninja, sneaks into the mansion of Ono Jirouemon, a sword instructor of the shogunate and a judge of the tournament, and copies the written proceeding of the tournament. Then, he goes back to his mother, who orders him to steal the 10 swords! One of the best old-school ninja movies, including an all-star cast and tons of cool action, not to be missed! „
- 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. „
- 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. „
- 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 „
- 381964“ Assassination (or Ansatsu) marked Masahiro Shinoda's first attempt at a period film, and is widely considered to be his finest achievement. Previously gaining fame and status alongside Nagisa Oshima and Kiju Yoshida, challenging established Japanese cinema with tales of reckless youth, The Dry Lake (1960) and the seminal yakuza drama Pale Flower (1964) Shinoda graduated from Shochiku, where, like Shohei Imamura, his grounding was working as an assistant to Yasujiro Ozu.
The story of Assassination begins with the events of 1853 when "four black ships" — the foreign steamboats of Commander Matthew Perry — anchored at Edo Bay, sparking civil unrest and the major political maneuvering that saw the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. At a time when assassination had become a disturbing political tool, Shinoda's film follows Hachiro Kiyokawa (Tetsuro Tamba), an ambitious, masterless samurai whose allegiances drift dangerously between the Shogunate and the Emperor. Filmed in richly stylish black and white 'Scope by cinematographer Masao Kosugi, Shinoda's film explores the character of Kiyokawa as he singlehandedly attempts, against a backdrop of betrayal and abrupt violence, to prevent the outbreak of civil war.
With an award-winning score by Toru Takemitsu (Pitfall, The Face of Another) and a deft, twisting narrative structure, Assassination's profound nihilism has a striking contemporary resonance which fiercely displays the director's skill and individual vision. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Assassination for the first time on home video in the West. „
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