This anthology film consists of nine incidents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when assassins changed the course of Japanese history. Among them are the Sakurada Gate Incident that occurred in 1860 (Assassination of Ii Naosuke) and the February 26th Incident of 1936, when a group of Japanese Army troops attempted a coup d’état. The vignettes are all played out in ultra-violent form by a large number of Japan’s major stars, including Wakayama Tomisaburo, Sugawara Bunta, Tsuruta Koji, Takakura Ken, Chiba Shinichi, and Kataoka Chiezo. The main bulk of this film concerns the ”League of Blood” a group led by radical priest Inoue Nissho (Kataoka) who takes a troubled young man (Chiba in by far his greatest performance as an actor) under his wing, leading to a pair of assassinations that helped change Japan from a burgeoning democracy into the militaristic juggernaut that they become in the mid-20th century.
The film jumps around from one decade to the next documenting various assassinations and their historical context within the extremist political turmoil during three of Japan’s periods of socio-political change — Meiji, Taisho and Showa. We begin in 1860 Edo with the assassination of Grand Elder Naosuke Tairo. This is the only time MEMOIRS OF JAPANESE ASSASSINS caters to jidai-geki conventions; the remaining two plus hours occupying the film fall into the gendai-geki style of Nipponese cinema, those being modern day dramas. So those expecting this to be a sword-slinger might wish to stop reading now.
Far from a movie that will leave you feeling refreshed when it’s over, it’s deadly serious and prime for post-viewing debates from a historical perspective. Die hard Chiba and Japanese cinema fans will find a lot to chew on here, but most others expecting frequent gore and bloodshed (it’s here, but relegated to the beginning and ending) will likely give up about 40 minutes into these MEMOIRS.
1.59GB | 2h 22mn | 859×358 | mkv