Bakumatsu (1970)

This is a sort of strange film.

With a brilliant opening scene, I was soon convinced it was going to be great. Unfortunately, due to a plot that I had a hard time figuring out, whether because to my own lack of Japanese history or inadequately translated subtitles, and long stretches of dramatic dialogue, I ended up being let down.

That doesn’t mean of course that it is a bad film, because it isn’t. The one real fight sequence is truly brilliant. The director,, Daisuke Itô, also ads a number of touches, in the way he brought out the narrative, that were very interesting. Stills. The screen going completely red when a head is cut off. Etc.

The story revolves around a country samurai set on transforming Japan, getting rid of the Emperor and introducing a parliamentary system of government.

Toshiro Mijune is billed in this, but his appearance is brief and not very noteworthy. The real stars here are Kinnosuke Nakamura and Tatsuya Nakadai. The latter is of course always brilliant. As for the former, my only real previous knowledge of him was from the Lone Wolf TV series, in which he seemed somewhat bland to me. Here he does a much better job and his character (as the country samurai previously mentioned) is relatively interesting.

Here is a clip:

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