The Men Who Tread On The Tiger’s Tail (1945)

AKIRA KUROSAWA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Original title:  Tora No O Wo Fumu Otokotachi

Alternate title:  They Who Tread On The Tiger’s Tail

Japan, 1945.  Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, based on the plays Kanjincho by , , and Ataka by Anonymous.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .

A group of monks trekking through the forest are told by their servant that there is a rumour that a feudal lord is on the run with his bodyguards in an attempt to travel to safety. Imagine the peon’s surprise when he realizes that he is with the very men he has been talking about and, in recognizing them, has put his own life in danger. This short early work by Akira Kurosawa then has the protagonists face off with border guards in a dangerous match of survival. It’s nothing compared to his later masterpieces (The Hidden Fortress immediately comes to mind), but Kurosawa’s rich visual style and sharp editing is something he obviously had going on for him from his earliest beginnings. Like all his most popular samurai films, this one is never satisfied with just being an action film and, even in 60 short minutes, manages to have a soul.

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