Samurai Koheita Mochizuki, who goes by the nickname Dora-Heita, meaning “alley cat” or “playboy,” pretends to be an alcoholic magistrate but is in actuality an envoy from the daimyo sent to clean up the corrupt and lawless town. His task is complicated by the unexpected arrival of his mistress Kosei.
Tag Archives: japanese
Tsuki wa noborinu / The Moon Has Risen (1955) Kinuyo Tanaka, Chishû Ryû, Hisako Yamane, Yôko Sugi, Comedy, Drama, Romance
Mokichi is the widowed father of three daughters, with whom he lives on the premises of a temple since the war. In the film all three daughters become involved in some sort of complicated relationships. The sisters and their attached Men are deliberately designed as allegorical figures on the changing social conditions. A wonderfully funny, sometimes droll comedy between Nara and Tokyo, Adagio and Allegro, Yesterday and Today – in search of a morning.
Gokudô sengokushi: Fudô / Fudoh: The New Generation (1996) Takashi Miike, Shôsuke Tanihara, Miho Nomoto, Tamaki Kenmochi, Action, Comedy, Crime
Set on the island of Kyushu, it tells the story of successful high school student Riki Fudoh, who leads a double life in organized crime. With his gang of underage assassins (forerunners of the kiddie killers in Dead or Alive 2 (2000), including five-year-olds with hand guns and a teenage stripper shooting deadly darts from her vagina) he not only controls the goings-on at his school, but aspires to take over criminal affairs on the entire island. Fudoh’s true motivations are not just a lust for power. An extensive flashback at the film’s opening shows how as a child he witnessed the grisly murder of his older brother at the hands of his yakuza boss father and his subsequent wish for revenge. Buckets of blood flow (literally) when Riki and the kids start an assassination campaign against the top figures of the local yakuza, with his father as the ultimate goal. The underworld goes into a state of panic and calls in mysterious and powerful problem solver Nohma.
Initiation of the Two-Sword Style / Nitôryû kaigen (1943) Daisuke Itô, Jun Fujikawa, Sannosuke Fujikawa, Kensaku Hara, Action
From the deepest archives of Japanese film history comes this superbly restored edition of one of the epic adventures of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman in all the land. Known primarily as the first to use both of his swords together, we learn here how he came to devise the Niten-ryu or Two Heavens As One style. Not only must he face the powerful martial art priests of Hongo-In Temple, Musashi crosses paths with Old Baiken, the deadly master of Chain & Sickle. For this classic work to have survived the destruction of Japanese samurai films during the occupation is nothing short of a miracle.
Nora-neko rokku: Onna banchô / Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (1970) Yasuharu Hasebe, Akiko Wada, Meiko Kaji, Kôji Wada, Action, Crime, Drama
Tells the story of Mei, leader of an all-girl biker gang, inadvertently gets involved with a yakuza group’s plot to rig boxing matches because of her boyfriend and a rival gang. When the yakuza tortures and kills some of her members, she comes out of hiding and, with the help of a loner named Ako, seeks revenge.
Dopperugengâ / Doppelganger (2003) Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Kôji Yakusho, Hiromi Nagasaku, Yûsuke Santamaria, Comedy, Fantasy, Thriller
Hayasaki is an inventor working on an Artificial Body. It is not going well and he is stressed out and on the verge of being fired from the research division of his company. His doppelganger appears to help him out of the rut he has created for himself.
The River with No Bridge / Hashi no nai Kawa (1992) Yôichi Higashi, Naoko Ôtani, Tamao Nakamura, Tetta Sugimoto, Drama
Though ethnically and culturally identical to the average Japanese, the burakumin have been an underclass in Japanese society since the 17th century when the shogunate government codified social hierarchies. The burakumin were the class on the bottom rung. They were herded into separate villages, and forced to work in such lowly vocations as slaughtering animals and tanning hides. In 1922, Zenkoku Suiheisha (National Levelers Association) organized and started fighting for burakumin civil rights. Though these rigid categories may have blurred since the 1600s, and despite the Zenkoku’s modern successors – the Buraku Liberation League – the stigma of being a burakumin still remains today. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the struggle, director Yoichi Higashi spins this tale about two boys who endure a daily torrent of prejudice for their lowly lineage, but grow up to fight for their rights.
Ichimei / Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) Takashi Miike, Kôji Yakusho, Munetaka Aoki, Naoto Takenaka, Drama
An tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
As her husband Eiichi becomes more entangled in his life as businessman, Naoko looks for ways to expand her own life even as her husband’s life shrinks in scope and intimacy. She finds new interests, new love, and a greater sense of her place in the world.