Street Fighting Man: Samurai Reincarnation Star Sonny Chiba Was a Kinji Fukasaku Favorite

|Hannah Baxter| Kinji Fukasaku and Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba, who stars in Samurai Reincarnation (1981), collaborated regularly throughout Fukasaku’s 40-year, genre-straddling directorial career. Chiba appeared in nearly a third of Fukasaku’s output, including the first four movies… Continue reading

Branded to Kill: The Graceful Aging of Disarray 

A black and white image of an adult man with dark hair wearing sunglasses

|Yuval Klein| With action, slapstick, deadpan machismo, a jazzy soundtrack, and avant-garde edits, the tone of Branded to Kill is set in an extensive and superbly shot shootout scene, in which our protagonist, a “highly ranked” assassin named Gorô, is ambushed. With him, an anxious and formerly ranked acquaintance… Continue reading

Quenched by Camp: Bandits vs Samurai Squadron is a Bloody Treat

Pop illustration of Tatsuya Nakadai as Kumokiri Nizaemon in black robes with bloody katana on a yellow background. Japanese characters behind Tatsuya in red read: Bandits vs Samurai Squadron. Illustration by author Jake Rudegeair.

|Jake Rudegeair| A lot has been written about camp, especially when it comes to film. It’s one of those delicious words that we all seem to understand, but gets so warped by bumps and nodules of meaning that its definition keeps changing. Maybe it’s like that old subjective definition… Continue reading

Gosha Channels Kurosawa: Three Outlaw Samurai

Shot of the three samurai walking into the distance down a dirt road

|Dan Howard| Looking at the history of cinema, I gravitate the most toward the works produced in the golden age of Japanese cinema during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Although I’m not overly fond of Westerns, a lot of samurai films have been heavily influenced by them. Even Akira Kurosawa took… Continue reading

Programmer’s Notes on Hideo Gosha, Wandering Ronin

The image is black and white. A man lays back against a wooden wall and is holding a sword in front of him. Reflected in the sword is the face of a woman.

|John Moret| Ronin, noun, historical (in feudal Japan): a wandering samurai who had no lord or master.

On a wintry day in 2012, a friend and I met for our weekly movie and lunch meetup. It was his choice that week and he brought a new release from the Criterion Collection, Three Outlaw Continue reading