Red Peony Gambler: Flower Cards Game

Original Title: Hibotan bakuto: hanafuda shobu

Year: 1969

Director: Tai Kato

Good with a pistol. Expert with a gun. And yes, she know how to gamble.

The Red Peony Gambler series (of which this is the third instalment) is something a bit different, being yakuza films set in the Meiji era. So basically you have half the cast dressed in suits with upturned collars and bow ties, and the other half dressed traditionally. Swordplay is much preferred over gunplay. Though the films were done on studio sets, the sets are quite well done: the steam of trains, people walking about city streets in snow fall, etc.

The plot of this one is pretty standard: woman impersonating Red Peony; blind child who needs eye operation; funds being raised for shrine; romantic interest. Still, the acting is decent, the shots are nicely framed, and the lead is attractive and interesting. Also, Tomisaburo Wakayama, of Lone Wolf and Cub fame, makes an appearance and tosses some people around while sporting a moustache.

Some people rave about this series and claim it to be in the same league as Kurosawa or stuff from other classic Japanese directors. It is not. It is fun—but not high art.

Red Peony Gambler 3

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