Legend of Turmoil / Shura no densetsu (1992)

Akira Kobayashi had been the king of Nikkatsu's “borderless action” movies in the sixties, but in the seventies had moved to Toei and taken up yakuza movies, often in supporting roles. His appearances faded in the eighties, even trying to revive Chiezo Kataoka's old Detective Bannai series. After a long gap he returned for his … Continue reading Legend of Turmoil / Shura no densetsu (1992)

Zoku Shimizu minato (1940)

A man is pursued through the bamboo forest by attackers until he fights his way into a clearing by a house, where he is promised help by a friend. The friend then stabs him in the back, leading to a gory death, only to be interrupted by an off-screen voice yelling, “Stop.” We realize we … Continue reading Zoku Shimizu minato (1940)

Inugami Family / Inugami-ke no ichizoku (1976)

The Inugami Family is an incredibly complicated murder mystery with more than enough red herrings, false identities, and twists within twists to satisfy almost any mystery fan. We could stop there, but the movie was more significant than most mystery films for a number of reasons. It was immensely popular, which brought Kon Ichikawa back … Continue reading Inugami Family / Inugami-ke no ichizoku (1976)

Signal Fire of Restoration / Restoration Fire / Ishin no kagaribi (1961)

One of the pleasures of watching movies from foreign cultures, and especially from Japan, is that they do not always follow our expectations. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Ishin no kagaribi is such a surprise. Starring Chiezo Kataoka and set among the Shinsengumi, it suggests lots of swordplay and fight scenes. Instead, we … Continue reading Signal Fire of Restoration / Restoration Fire / Ishin no kagaribi (1961)