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Samurai Rebellion (Joi-uchi: Hairyo tsuma shimatsu)


Dir. Masaki Kobayashi. 1967, 128 mins. 35mm. With Tatsuya Nakadai, Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Tsukasa, Go Kato. Two of the great lions of Japanese cinema, Nakadai and Mifune, team in this chanbara(samurai)classic, set against the backdrop of the eighteenth century Tokugawa Dynasty. The usually imperious Mifune appears here as Isaburo, the sad, henpecked head of the Sasahara household. Though he and best friend Tatewaki (Nakadai) are powerful swordsmen of unparalleled ability, they live in utter fealty to the whims of their clan’s daimyo—until his despotism oversteps the boundaries of Isaburo’s harassed pride. A slow-burn domestic drama that builds to a climactic bloodletting—and the fateful confrontation of the two friends—Samurai Rebellion may be Kobayashi’s most perfect expression of his lifelong theme: the resistance to oppressive social order.

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