Ronin gai (1990)

Ronin gai had been one of Japan's most popular silent films when Masahiro Makino made it in 1928,* so it comes as no surprise that he remade it with sound in 1939 and again in 1957. In 1990, Shochiku decided to make it again, supposedly to honor the 60th year of the death of Makino's … Continue reading Ronin gai (1990)

Shogun’s Shadow / Shogun Iemitsu no ranshin – Gekitotsu (1988)

While the chanbara was relatively rare in the eighties, examples were still being made, usually with a spectacle that TV chanbara budgets could not match. In Shogun's Shadow, the spectacle is something we have not seen in most earlier Japanese movies, chanbara or otherwise – stunt work. With the flimsiest of possible ties to history, … Continue reading Shogun’s Shadow / Shogun Iemitsu no ranshin – Gekitotsu (1988)

The Love and Adventures of Kuroki Taro / Kuroki Taro to ai no boken (1977)

Kuroki Taro is a stuntman, something of a rarity in Japanese movies.* However, we only see him do one kind of stunt, car races and wrecks, at the very beginning of the movie. The “Love and Adventures” all occur far from the movie set. Juichi and his two buddies are introduced to us on a … Continue reading The Love and Adventures of Kuroki Taro / Kuroki Taro to ai no boken (1977)

One-Eyed, One-Armed Swordsman / Tange Sazen: Zankoku no kawa (1963)

In 1962, Ryutaro Otomo made the last of his popular Tange Sazen films, but it was hardly the last screen appearance of the character. In 1963, Shochiku decided to try a new version with Tetsuro Tanba. Reflecting some of the sixties zeitgeist that was spreading throughout the chanbara as a whole, Zankoku no kawa is … Continue reading One-Eyed, One-Armed Swordsman / Tange Sazen: Zankoku no kawa (1963)

Swords of Vengeance / The Fall of Ako Castle / Ako-jo danzetsu (1978)

There have been so many Chushingura movies that it is very difficult to keep them apart in your mind, and equally tempting not to add another to the list of viewings of the all-too-familiar story. However, the name of Kinji Fukasaku on the credits finally persuaded me to watch Fall of Ako Castle, which turns … Continue reading Swords of Vengeance / The Fall of Ako Castle / Ako-jo danzetsu (1978)