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Samurai Assassin
Samurai Assassin
Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Keiju Kobayashi, Michiyo Aratama, Yűnosuke It˘, Eijir˘ T˘no
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2005     2hr 3min

Based on a true historical event, "Samurai Assassin" stars Mifune Toshiro (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo) in one of his greatest roles. Niiro Tsuruchiyo is a masterless samurai - a ronin - desperate for a last chance to gain a po...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Toshir˘ Mifune, Keiju Kobayashi, Michiyo Aratama, Yűnosuke It˘, Eijir˘ T˘no
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
Creators: Toshir˘ Mifune, Masao Suzuki, Reiji Miwa, Robert J. Woodhead, Tomoyuki Tanaka, Jiromasa Gunji, Shinobu Hashimoto
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Espionage, Indie & Art House, Drama
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/08/2005
Original Release Date: 03/05/1965
Theatrical Release Date: 03/05/1965
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 3min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Toshiro Mifune in a film based on the Saurada Gate incident
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Samurai Assassin" is based on a historical event in 1860 when a group of assassins waited by Saurada Gate inside Edo castle to assassinate the lord of the House of Il, who is high up in the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate. This is a Japan on the verge of major changes, represented by the American ships in the harbor. However, the assassins think one of them is a traitor. The main suspects are Tsuruchiyo Niino (Toshirô Mifune), a ronin who wants to become a samurai so that his unknown father will declare himself, and Kurihara Einosuke (Keiju Kobayashi) a high-born samurai who strikes up a friendship with Niino.

As the characters are developed the tension builds as the assassins wait day after day for their prey. The fact that he is staying inside is taken to mean that there is a traitor in their midst and as the tension builds as we realize there is more at stake here that the assassination of a high official of the Shogunate. We also learn as the Tokugawa Shogunate begins to move towards its point of crisis that both sides have the same goal but believe in decidedly different ways of protecting Japan from the influence of the foreigners who are knocking on the door (in terms of reference points this is a whole lot closer to the musical "Pacific Overtures" than the movie "The Last Samurai"). The conclusion takes place in a world of falling snow that lends an unearthly beauty to the bloody carnage, filmed in glorious black & white Tohoscope by Hiroshi Murai (was Quentin Tarantino inspired for the duel between the Bride and O-Ren Ishi in "Kill Bill, Volume 1"? You decide).

This 1965 film offers a nice mix between the historical samurai films of the Fifties (e.g., "The 47 Ronin") and Chan-Bara bloodbaths of the late Sixties (e.g., the "Lone Wolf and Cub" films). It is not so much a true marriage of the two traditions but more beginning in the one approach and ending more decidedly in the other. The film is two hours long but this is not really a concern because of the brisk pacing by director Kihachi Okamoto and the increasing complexity of the story. Of course in front of the camera is Mifune's riveting performance and because of his presence alone we know that his character cannot be a minor player in what is to happen.

"Samurai Assassin" is a film that should appeal to fans of diverse genres of samurai films. I certainly appreciate the sense of history and the detailed narrative that is created, because for me the sword play and the blood-letting always ends up being secondary considerations. The significance of a person's death matters more than the creative way in which they are sliced and diced by the samurai hero. However, "Samurai Assassin" also ends with the sort of irony that is usually found in a Greek tragedy, which is not usually the case with Japanese samurai films."
A powerful film with very contemporary themes
Stephen Gibbons | 07/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The film, set in the mid-1800's plays out a Greek tragedy through a Japanese lens. The film's basic story of a young man who is denied knowledge of his father's identity, rebels by joining a gang (of ronin), murders his best friend in order to maintain the trust of the gang leader, and ends up, unknowingly, committing one of the most horrific of crimes is amazingly contemporary. The ending is bloody, but the imagined aftermath is more powerful than any fight scene. Mifume and co-stars are excellent. This is a film I could have imagined Mifume and Kurosawa collaborating on."
Fantastic Samurai Film
Stephen Gibbons | Hamilton, Ontario Canada | 04/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This B&W masterpiece chronicles the events of late Febraury and early March 1860, the beginning of the fall of the samurai. Toshiro Mifune stars as Niiro, a rumpled samurai looking for employment with a repsectable house, who ends up involved in a plot to assassinate the leader of the Ii clan. Beautifully filmed, the backstory unfolds slowly, emphasizing character over hack-and-slash action. Tension builds nicely throughout, leading to the climactic and bloody battle on a snowy field, where Niiro seeks to make his mark. He does indeed, but not how he had intended.Anyone familiar with Mifune's collaborations with Akira Kurosawa will know what to expect here, as Mifune is completely gripping as the ultimately doomed hero. Fans of samurai action and classic Japanese filmmaking will love this."
Toshiro Mifune in a fantastic film.
Mark Judge | Azle, Tx United States | 11/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This a wonderful movie with an intricate plot and storytelling. Not only is Toshiro Mifune great in this film but so is the rest of the cast. Great film work and an excellently filmed sword battle scene as a finale. This ranks as one of the top samurai films I have seen. A must see for anyone who doesn't mind following subtitles. The plot in this movie gets involved so you have to pay attention. It isn't hard to do though because this is a gripping powerful movie."