In 1844 Japan, young Lord Naritsugu (Inagaki) is such a sadist that he's about to end a long period of peace. And his merciless rampage of rape, torture and death goes unchallenged because he's the Shogun's half-brother. Shocked by where this is heading, top samurai Shinzaemon (Yakusho) assembles a team of 12 warriors to take him out. It's clearly a suicide mission. And they pick up a wild-eyed 13th colleague (Iseya) on the way to setting an elaborate trap for Naritsugu and his 200-strong entourage.
Continue reading: 13 Assassins Review
Despite a substantial oeuvre, Fukasaku movies could be hard to lay your hands on, sometimes even in Japan. Thanks to the efforts of Home Vision Entertainment, a sampling of Fukasaku's late '60s/early '70s social comedies has become available on DVD, among them 1968's Blackmail Is My Life.
Continue reading: Blackmail Is My Life Review
The problem, in post-war Hiroshima, is the power void, and the answer, for Hiroshima's petty criminals, is to organize. Shozo, who has unceremoniously dispatched an unarmed man at the film's outset, makes a blood pact in prison with a yakuza named Hiroshi Wakasugi (Tatsuo Umemiya). Once released, he joins his friends in organizing under boss Yamamori, only to find his sworn brother Hiroshi allied to a different gang. One gang crosses the other by rigging an election, and Hiroshi defects with tragic consequences. In the film's second half, Yamamori faces a mutiny within his own ranks until Shozo, again released from prison, brings the conflict to a head, setting the stage for the second film.
Continue reading: Battles Without Honor And Humanity Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.