Tag Archives: Hideo Gosha

My Thoughts on: Sword of the Beast (1965)

After checking out Kill! the next Criterion film I checked out was Sword of the Beast, another samurai film, this time from 1965. The film was directed by Hideo Gosha and is set in 1857 toward the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The story follows Gennosuke (Mikijiro Hira), a samurai on the run after assassinating a counselor in his clan. He is relentlessly pursued by Misa, the daughter of the counselor he killed, and Daizaburo, her future husband.

As with several films of this genre that I’ve watched recently, the reasons behind Gennosuke’s actions are…well, complicated. The gist though, is that like other protagonists, Gennosuke was tricked into doing what he did, expecting to be rewarded afterward. Instead, he’s double-crossed and forced to go on the run.

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That much of the story I can understand, as well as Gennosuke’s rightful claims that the clan he formerly served is corrupt to its core. Apart from that though, this story actually disappointed me. I was expecting and/or hoping for Gennosuke’s issues to be properly resolved in some way by the end of the story…but they’re not. Sure, by the end Misa appears to have given up her wish to see Gennosuke dead, but the story just ends with the rebel samurai walking away. It’s an ending that doesn’t satisfy me at all, as I feel like Gennosuke’s story doesn’t have any closure. After all, isn’t the clan still going to be after him for what he did?

Also, I found parts of the story to be a little jarring. Some characters are introduced that seem to have no relevance to Gennosuke’s story, and even though their connection to the story is later explained, it was still a bit awkward for me.

I did like watching Sword of the Beast for the most part, but it’s not my favorite samurai film by any stretch of the imagination. It has its moments, but I can’t get over how disappointed I was with the ending of the story.

Let me know what you think about Sword of the Beast in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Three Outlaw Samurai (1964)

As I’ve mentioned once or twice here on the blog, I’m a big fan of Japanese cinema, particularly samurai films. Today, after several previous attempts, I finally got to watch Three Outlaw Samurai, directed by Hideo Gosha, one of the samurai films I have in my collection. The film is, apparently, an origin story for a Japanese television series of the same name.

Three Outlaw Samurai reminds me a little bit of Harakiri, in that part of the story deals with the seeming futility of trying to change the system. See, most of the film revolves around the farmers of a certain area trying to appeal for better living conditions, going so far as to draft a petition for the lord to read when he passes through. However, the magistrate of this area wants it all hushed up and the titular samurai, at various points in the story, end up in the middle of the conflict.

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I mentioned futility because it feels like the story is leading up towards a meeting with the lord, where the petition will be presented and things will get better for the farmers. However, when the moment comes, when the samurai presents the farmers with the petition and urges them to run after the lord, they do nothing. And in frustration, the samurai who brought the petition to them throws it down and walks away. My initial reaction was to say “Well what was the point of that?” So much revolved around getting that petition and it ultimately does nothing. But then I considered that maybe the point they were trying to make is that societal change can only occur if the people really want it. After suffering great losses at the magistrate’s hands, the people are too scared to come forward now. In other words, they’re just not ready to make a lasting push for change. Recognizing this, the samurai move on to other adventures.

If you like samurai films, you will enjoy Three Outlaw Samurai. One detail I really like about it is that the one samurai is played by Tetsuro Tamba, who also played “Tiger” Tanaka in You Only Live Twice. I also enjoy watching how the three very different samurai come together and interact. One is rather cynical, he’s seen and done it all; one loves food and is described as a “country bumpkin samurai”; while the third is a rather spoiled samurai who likes his luxuries. They’re so different, and yet they end up meshing very well by the end of the story.

If you’ve seen Three Outlaw Samurai, what do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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