With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ACF 479: Destiny's Son at Japan Society

Destiny's Son
Directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan, 1962, 71 min, color

Japan Society's current film series The Double Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa continues tomorrow night, Friday, February 19th, 2010 at 7:30 PM with this rather unusual swordplay film. In it Ichikawa plays Takakura Shingo, a young man who has been raised as the son of a low ranking samurai, but whose actual origins are far different.

After wandering around Japan to gain life experience, Shingo returns to his father and sister with unexpected skills as a swordsmen. These include a formidable stance that was inspired by a lute player. Shingo's victory over a talented swordsman incurs the wrath and jealousy of another low ranking samurai whose own son was defeated in the contest. This sets Shingo off on a search for revenge and further wanderings.

Shingo demonstrates the stance inspired by a lute player

Director Kenji Misumi was born in 1921 in Kyoto, Japan. Most of his films were made for Daiei, where he was a contract player until it went bankrupt in 1971. He wnet on to make a few more films before his death in 1975. Many of his movies are available on DVD. These include several of the films in the Zatoichi series, including the first one, which appeared the same year as Destiny's Son. He also directed films in the Lone Wolf & Cub (a.k.a. Baby Cart) series and in the Sleepy Eyes of Death series, in which Ichikawa also starred.

Destiny's Son has been referred to as "a forgotten masterpiece" in some of the promo material. Personally, I think is a bit more praise than the film merits. There is a lengthy expository scene in which Shingo's "father" tells him the truth about his birth. For me, this scene brought the film to a grinding halt for awhile. Too much "telling" and not enough "showing."

There were also a few minor things that didn't make much sense. For example, at one point a government official for whome Shingo has been working says that they've been together for about three years. However, the story at that point seems to indicate that he's been in the official's employ for a far shorter time. Of course, this might be just a problem with the subtitles, or a misreading on my part.

Still, while I don't regard this very short film (at 71 minutes it probably just qualifies as feature length) as a masterpiece, I think it's a good film that is definitely worth seeing. This is especially so because it does not appear to be available on a Region 1 DVD.

So if you can, make it to Friday's screening of Destiny's Son, which will take place at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (beteween 1st and 2nd Avenues), NYC.

Buy tickets online or call the Japan Society Box Office at 212.715.1258, Mon - Fri 11 am - 6 pm.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.