Kenji Misumi: Samurai Swordplay and Beyond
A director of period dramas for Daiei studios, Kenji Misumi has been internationally renowned for his direction of action Samurai films. While this retrospective will highlight some of these popular works, it will also include some of Misumi’s films that are lesser known in the U.S.; ghost stories and melodramas which exemplify why Misumi is renowned in his homeland as a creator of the jidai-geki (historical period drama). This series was co-organized with the Japan Foundation.
- Fri., Oct. 12 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
The blind masseur Zatoichi is continuously faced with the challenges of other men and answers with a dazzling, ruthless display of swordsmanship. Based on the novella by Kan Shimozawa, Misumi’s black and white ‘Scope Samurai classic film was the first of 26 Zatoichi movies made between 1962 and 1989, an enormously popular series starring the charismatic Katsu.
- Fri., Oct. 12 | 8:45 PM4070 Vilas Hall
A young mother dies in an ambush intended for the blind swordsman Zatoichi, who vows to deliver her baby to his father. With the reluctant help of a young prostitute he tries to find the father while being relentlessly pursued by assassins. But in a final bitter twist of fate Zatoichi must add to his list of enemies the father of the child he has sworn to protect. For this 8th installment of the long-running action series, director Misumi switched to Eastman Color.
- Fri., Oct. 19 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
This adaptation of Yukio Mishima’s famous novel tells the story of the rivalry between Jiro Kokubu (Ichikawa), a star pupil of the university kendo club and his fellow senior Kagawa (Kawazu, star of Nagisa Oshima's early films). Misumi's only film in a contemporary setting is shot in suitably high-contrast black and white and is closer in style and tone to the seishun-eiga (the Japanese New Wave), than to any of the director’s own chanbara films. An overlooked gem that sheds a very different light on Misumi.
- Fri., Oct. 26 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In one of Japan's most frequently-told ghost stories, a murdered wife returns in an act of vengeance. Misumi’s brilliant black & white version of this bloody tale puts a new twist on the old story by presenting the husband in a much more sympathetic light.
- Fri., Nov. 2 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In Misumi’s breakthrough film, Shingo (Ichikawa) seeks revenge and redemption after his family is murdered by a rival clan. Based on a novel by Shibata Renzaburo and adapted for the screen by fellow director and horror master Kaneto Shindo, Destiny’s Son is filled with stylistic highlights and thrilling fight scenes. Patrick Galloway calls it a “perfect synthesis of Zen and bushido (way of the warrior)”.
- Fri., Nov. 2 | 8:30 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In the 19th century Edo period, sisters Oshizu and Otaka have sacrificed their personal happiness to work and care for their ailing father. Otaka falls in love, but can’t accept a marriage proposal since her older sister needs to marry first. When Oshizu learns of this decision, she takes matters in her own hands. A routine Daiei Studio contract assignment for director Misumi, it nonetheless stands as one of his most sensitive and memorable films.
- Fri., Nov. 9 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Dynamic action star Raizô Ichikawa stars as Lone Tree, a wandering gambler who strolls into a village looking for his father’s murderers. While investigating, our hero uncovers multiple levels of power and a plot to turn the town’s peasants into gold mine slaves! Smoothly directed and beautifully photographed in ‘Scope and color, Mushuku Mono is a classic of its genre.