Against the backdrop of the Edo treasury devaluing currency and driving many into poverty, Hanzo Itami enforces the law without regard to status. He shows inadequate respect to the treasurer, who wants him dead. He finds a young woman dead following an abortion, and he enters a temple without permission looking for evidence. He tortures and then sexually assaults the temple’s priestess to get information. He’s then assigned to protect the mint from a notorious thief. There he closets himself in the bedroom of the mint’s mistress. He waits. The thief arrives – but other crimes are afoot. Devalued currency, white slavery, and government corruption lead Hanzo to one conclusion.
Tag Archives: japanese
Goyôkiba: Oni no Hanzô yawahada koban / Hanzo the Razor: Who’s Got the Gold? (1974) Yoshio Inoue, Shintarô Katsu, Kô Nishimura, Mako Midori, Mikio Narita, Action
Follow the money. In a time of economic disaster for wage earners, Hanzo discovers a conspiracy among high officials to “borrow” gold from the shogunate’s treasury and loan it out to the destitute, including impecunious samurai – exacting either interest payments or family heirlooms from the debtors. Along the way, Hanzo extracts a confession from a ghost using his assaulting methods, foils thieves, connects with Heisuke Takei a friend from his youth, offers protection to a forward-thinking physician Genan Sugino who has defamed his ruler, discovers a pleasure ring of young wives and a blind music teacher, and cuckolds a corrupt official under his very nose.
Jo no mai / Appassionata (1984) Sadao Nakajima, Mariko Okada, Yûko Natori, Morio Kazama, Kei Satô, Biography, Drama
This story is based on the novel “Jo No Mai” by Tomiko Miyao which is based on the life of painter Sh?en Uemura (1875–1949), the first woman to be awarded the Order of Culture. The title refers to the masterpiece bijinga (“picture of a beautiful woman”) that Uemura painted at the age of 61. The main character, Tsuya Shimamura, is born in Kyoto as the second daughter of a tea trader who dies before her birth. Tsuya, who loves painting more than anything and is hopeless at housework, attends art school and at age 15 receives the name Sh?sui (from the characters for “pine” and “green”) from her teacher. The crown prince of England purchases one of her works, propelling her to fame overnight. The novel portrays the remainder of her stormy life, during which she is impregnated by her teacher and raises a fatherless child; through it all she devotes herself to her painting, undaunted.
Kitamura Toukoku: Waga fuyu no uta / Tokoku Kitamura. My Winter Song (1977) Seiichiro Yamaguchi, Ranbô Minami, Mari Tanaka, Renji Ishibashi, Mariko Fuji, Drama, Romance
Tokoku Kitamura (1868-1894) is a Romantic poet and an advocate of liberalism in the Meiji era. This biopic is centered on New Year’s Day of 1894, when Kitamura is recovering from a suicide attempt. Japan is then under the spell of fervent patriotism because the government wants to build up public support for a war with China. Kitamura’s literary friends and militant comrades come to visit. They wonder why Kitamura wants to kill himself. Kitamura at first refuses to receive them, then he sits down with them and looks back on his days as a civil rights militant, his stormy love life and his ardent but destructive desire to live literature to the full.
With Ran, legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear as a singular historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa’s late-life masterpiece, a profound examination of the folly of war and the crumbling of one family under the weight of betrayal, greed, and the insatiable thirst for power.
Saikaku Ichidai Onna / The Life of Oharu (1952) Kenji Mizoguchi, Kinuyo Tanaka, Tsukie Matsuura, Ichirô Sugai, Drama
A fifty-year-old prostitute, no longer able to attract men, looks back on her sad life. Once a lady-in-waiting at the imperial court at Kyoto, Oharu fell in love with, and became the lover of, a man below her station. They were discovered, and Oharu and her family were exiled. For Oharu there followed a life filled with one sorrow and humiliation after another.
Red Angel / Akai tenshi (1966) Yasuzô Masumura, Ayako Wakao, Shinsuke Ashida, Yûsuke Kawazu, Drama, Romance, War
In 1939, Sakura Nishi is a young army nurse who is sent to the field hospitals in China during the Sino-Japanese war. She has to assist the surgeon Dr. Okabe with an incredible number of amputations. In the crowded wards, she gives sympathy to some of the soldiers, including sexually servicing one who has lost both arms and has no hope of returning home. She falls in love with Dr. Okabe, and follows him to the front, even though he is impotent from his morphine addiction.
Hana ichimonme / Gray Sunset (1985) Shunya Itô, Yukiyo Toake, Minoru Chiaki, Teruhiko Saigô, Yumiko Nogawa, Drama
Gray Sunset is a 1985 Japanese film directed by Shunya Ito. It was Japan’s submission to the 58th Academy Awards for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not accepted as a nominee. It won the award for Best Film at the Japan Academy Prize ceremony. Grandfather Fuyukichi Takano, a former university professor, gets fired from his museum job when he is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, but his affliction serves to deepen family ties.
Rokugatsu no hebi / A Snake of June (2002) Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Asuka Kurosawa, Yûji Kôtari, Shin’ya Tsukamoto, Yukino Asai, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rinku is a suicide-prevention counselor, living with her husband Shigehiko. He’s older than she, scrubbing things constantly, sexually indifferent. They sleep apart. During Tokyo’s rainy season, Iguchi, a photographer Rinku has counseled by phone, sends her pictures he has taken through her skylight: she’s wearing a short skirt, masturbating. He offers her the negatives if she’ll follow his instructions. She’s humiliated and agrees. He tells her he’s only giving her license to express her inner desires. He sends her into the night to walk on the wild side. Then, she asks a favor of him, and soon her husband receives phone calls and photographs. Where will this triangle lead?
Twilight Saya in Sasara / Towairaito Sasara Saya (2014) Yoshihiro Fukagawa, Yui Aragaki, Yô Ôizumi, Sumiko Fuji, Drama
Saya (Yui Aragaki) is a young widow mother. Her husband Yutaro (Yo Oizumi) died in an accident. Yutaro abandoned his wealthy family to marry Saya. To protect her baby, she goes to the town of Sasara where her aunt lived. Her aunt passed her house down to Saya. Saya and her baby settles down there, but she has difficulties dealing with her situation. At this time, her dead husband Yutaro borrows other people’s bodies to help Saya, but Yutaro’s family tries to take her baby away.