Rebel Samurai: Sixties Swordplay Classics - The Criterion Collection
Rebellion! The political and cultural tumult of the 1960s shook Japan as it did the rest of the world. Japanese filmmakers responded to the changing times by disguising themes of dissent in the traditional form of the swordplay film, or chanbara. Previously populated by heroic samurai, self-sacrificing ronin, and historical figures who exemplified noble Japanese virtues, the genre began embracing a new kind of hero, or antihero: the lone outcast, distrustful of authority but maintaining a personal code of honor. These four classic films, from four masters of Japanese cinema, turn a genre upside down, redefining for a modern generation the meaning of loyalty and honor, as embodied by the iconic figure of the samurai.
Toshiro Mifune seethes with righteous anger in Masaki Kobayahi's chronicle of a retired swordsman whose loyalty is unfairly tested by his own lord.
Sword Of The Beast
Masahiro Shinoda mounts an aesthetic rebellion in his tale of a ninja who seeks only peace but becomes trapped in a labyrinth of treachery and assumed identities.
A betrayal of another kind comes in Hideo Gosha's story of a low-level swordsman pursued by assassins from his own clan.
In Kihachi Okamoto's Italian western-influenced Kill!, Tatsuya Nakadai wanders a dusty landscape inhabited by a motley crew of would-be samurai and greedy officials, where honor is found in the least likely of places.