With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ACF 428: Samurai Vendetta kicks off new series at Japan Society this Friday, Dec 11th

All images © 1959 Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

Samurai Vendetta / Hakuoki
(a.k.a. A Chronicle of Pale Cherry Blossoms)
Directed by Kazuo Mori
Japan, 1959, 109 min
In Japanese with English subtitles

The Double-Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa is the name of Japan Society's new monthly film series. It kicks off this Friday, December 11th at 7:30 PM with a screening of Samurai Vendetta (Hakuoki). This 1959 film stars both actors as expert swordsmen from rival schools.

This rivalry has resulted in numerous duels. To end the bloodshed, each are sacrificed by the heads of their schools by kicking them out. The two are also rivals who each love the same woman. But both are highly honorable, sort of a samurai version of "frenemies."

I first encountered Raizo Ichikawa in his title role in the Nemuri Kyoshiro series, a.k.a. Sleepy Eyes of Death. (The fourth film in that series will also be screened as part of The Double-Edged Sword). In fact, I still have several films in the series on VHS tapes that AnimEigo put out under their Samurai Cinema brand. Ichikawa died a tragically early death from cancer in 1969, just shy of his 38th birthday.

Raizo Ichikawa is probably best known for his roles as Zatoichi and as Hanzo the Razor. It's terrific seeing him paired off with Ichikawa in this epic swordplay variation on the story of the 47 Ronin.

I had the opportunity to watch a screener of Samurai Vendetta and really enjoyed it. So much so that I'm going to the opening night screening and see it again!

This series has been curated by Chris D. (a.k.a. Chris Desjardins), author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film (a fine book that I'm about half-way through), and is an updated version of a series he presented in Los Angeles in 2002. He's slated to be present for the opening night festivities, which will include a reception and book signing in addition to the screening.

For more information, go to my November 24th post, or to this page at the Japan Society website.

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