(out of 5)
Tatsuya Nakadai and his buddy Etsushi Takahashi arrive at a tiny Japanese village just in time to enter a conflict between a samurai clan and a band of rebels who have wised up to their corrupt leader’s nefarious ways. Takahashi wants to leave his life as a farmer behind to become a noble samurai, but Nakadai was once a member of the order and now just wants to blend in with the crowd. When they decide to take the side of the rebels, they are both forced to come out into the spotlight as heroes. The plot is reminiscent of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, but here the tone has a nastily humorous bent to it that makes the terrific swordplay action and gorgeously crisp photography seem so much richer. Nakadai is terrific, and Kihachi Okamoto’s direction never falters.
Directed by Kihachi Okamoto
Cinematography by Rokuro Nishigaki
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Music by Masaru Sato
Production Design by Hiroyasu Tsutsumi
Film Editing by Yoshitami Kuroiwa