Japan

Masaru Konuma – Hana to hebi AKA Flower and Snake (1974)

Synopsis:
Shizuka (pink film starlet, Naomi Tani) is the aristocratic wife of Senzo Toyama, the president of a large company. Repulsed by her husband, she enlists her lifelong maid to act as a surrogate to appease his sexual desires. When the maid does not satisfy, Senzo often advances on Shizuka. After threatening to divorce him, Senzo orders his employee, Yoshi, to abduct his wife and train her in the ways of sexual submissiveness. Yoshi, who has been rendered impotent due to a childhood trauma, uses the opportunity to rid himself of his affliction. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Donzoko AKA The Lower Depths (1957)

Synopsis:
Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa transferred the setting of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths from Imperial Russia to his own country’s Edo Period–which, like Gorky’s 19th-century setting, was an era of great cultural advances, offset by the miseries of those who weren’t in the aristocracy. Kurosawa’s film concentrates on Toshiro Mifune, playing a crooked gambler who falls in love with the sister (Kyoko Kagawa) of his cruel landlady (Isuzu Yamada). Herself carrying a torch for Mifune, the landlady exacts a roundabout revenge by killing her own husband and pinning the blame on the gambler. As the landlady descends into madness, those whom she has treated wretchedly laugh at her plight. Read More »

Tokuzô Tanaka – Zatoichi no uta ga Kikoeru AKA Zatoichi’s Vengeance (1966)

Synopsis:
Zatoichi comes upon a dying man who asks him to give a bag of money to “Taichi”. Zatoichi has no idea who this is but when he comes upon a small town harassed by gangsters, he finds that “Taichi” was the man’s young son. Along his travels he also met a blind monk who makes Zatoichi question his murderous lifestyle. In trying to help the town, Zatoichi kills some gangsters and becomes a hero to the boy. He must make a choice of whether to use non-violence and set a good example, or violence and set the boy on the wrong path in life. Read More »

Kazuo Mori – Zatoichi sakate giri AKA Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (1965)

Synopsis:
Blind swordsman Zatoichi, jailed briefly, is implored by another prisoner to aid him in proving his innocence of a crime for which he is sentenced to death. Zatoichi is reluctant to get involved, because he knows how often such involvement has led to trouble in the past. But events conspire to thrust him repeatedly into involvement, and gradually he comes to believe in the man’s innocence and determines to free him. Read More »

Kenji Misumi – Zatôichi kesshô-tabi AKA Fight, Zatoichi, Fight (1964)

Synopsis:
Fight, Zatoichi, Fight finds our favorite masseur and swordsman once again on the run. This time, he’s being pursued by a ruthless band of samurai who have been hired to kill him. Thinking they’ve got Zatoichi cornered, they instead kill a young woman, who is returning to her husband with her infant son. Ichi, feeling responsible for the woman’s death, resolves to deliver the child safely into the arms of its father. Read More »

Kimiyoshi Yasuda – Zatoichi sekisho yaburi AKA Adventures of Zatoichi (1964)

Synopsis:
Blind swordsman/masseuse Zatoichi befriends a young woman looking for her father, a village leader who has disappeared. As he helps her investigate the disappearance, Zatoichi also becomes involved with another young woman who is trying to help her brother, who has murdered someone at about the same time and place as the missing man was last seen. Read More »

Kazuo Ikehiro – Zatôichi Abare Tako AKA Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword (1964)

Synopsis:
Blind masseur Zatoichi is nursed back to health by a young woman after he is shot by a gang member. Zatoichi, who had come to the village to repay a debt, now feels further indebted. He commits himself to use his amazing sword skills to help the young woman’s father, whose river-crossing service is under attack by the same gang responsible for Zatoichi’s wounds. Read More »