New Morning of Billy the Kid / Biri za kiddo no atarashii yoake (1986)

A man with a gunbelt and John Wayne’s side-turned bandana walks across a black and white Monument Valley while the radio plays the voice of the American president vowing to track down and destroy “The Gang”* that has been terrorizing the world (identified on the wanted poster as Sharlott Rampling, Hurry Callahan,  Leonid Breznef, and … Continue reading New Morning of Billy the Kid / Biri za kiddo no atarashii yoake (1986)

Secret Sword / Hiken (1963)

For many samurai, the sudden and apparently permanent peace that settled over the country after 1615 was a disappointment rather than a relief. The ending of more than a century of war meant the end of any opportunity for advancement through battle deeds and, for the young men, it also meant the end of excitement. … Continue reading Secret Sword / Hiken (1963)

Daredevil in the Castle / Tale of Osaka Castle / Osaka jo monogatari (1961)

Now and then you come across a movie for which you have such high expectations that you may over-react when those expections are not met.  Starring Toshiro Mifune, with Yoshiko Kuga, Kyoko Kagawa, and Isuzu Yamada among others and directed by Inagaki, Daredevil in the Castle promises so much more than it delivers, but it … Continue reading Daredevil in the Castle / Tale of Osaka Castle / Osaka jo monogatari (1961)

Fugitive from the Past / Straits of Hunger/ Kiga kaikyo (1964/5*)

I have occasionally commented that a large number of Japanese films seem to  illustrate the idea that "no good deed goes unpunished," but none does so more explicitly and complexly than Tomu Uchida's Fugitive from the Past. In 1957, a successful businessman (Rentaro Mikuni) makes a major charitable donation. Yae, a prostitute in Tokyo (Sachiko … Continue reading Fugitive from the Past / Straits of Hunger/ Kiga kaikyo (1964/5*)

The Great Duel / Odeiri (1964)

In a sense, Odeiri is the quintessential chanbara of the mid sixties. Artistically, there are many better movies in the genre, but no movie I have found so completely combines all the cultural and stylistic developments of the genre at its date. This is, of course, another way to say that Odeiri doen’t have an […]