Friday, July 17, 2009

REVIEW: Shinobi No Mono 3: Resurrection

新・忍びの者 (Shin shinobi no mono)

Released: 1963

Kazuo Mori

Raizô Ichikawa
Ayako Wakao
Saburo Date

Chikako Hosokawa
Yoshiro Kitahara

Running time: 86 min.

Reviewed by Matthew Hardstaff

When we last saw Ishikawa Goemon at the end of "Shinobi No Mono 2: Vengeance", he was about to be boiled alive in a giant pot of boiling water. Of course, Goemon, being a ninja isn’t so easily disposed of. Its interesting to note that the folk tale of Goemon ends with his death at the hands of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, after his failed assassination attempt, and he is indeed boiled alive in that oh so large pot. So where could the series go, with six more films left? Part three, "Shinobi No Mono 3: Resurrection", pretty much sees the end of the Goemon story arc, and actor Ichikawa Raizo changes roles, playing Kirigakure Saizo in the following five films. And with such an amazing cliffhanger at the end of part two, you’d expect that there would be some amazing resolution. Wouldn’t you?

With the help of Hattori Hanzo, and several smoke bombs, Goemon is quickly switched with that of some helpless criminal, and while it appears Goemon is boiled alive, he is quickly whisked away. After spending days in hiding, he slowly plots his revenge, still focused on killing Toyotomi for the death of his son Gohei. However Goemon is a changed man. Previously, he believed the gods where on his side, and that Toyotomi would suffer in the flames of hell. But since his failure to assassinate the lord, he sees the god’s as a sham. If karmic retribution existed, Goemon would have succeeded. Instead, he failed and was rescued by his enigmatic rival. He curses Buddha, and sets out to kill Toyotomi on his own, turning down all help, so that he can end Toyotomi’s life with his own two hands. Of course, he wants to ensure Toyotomi knows his death is coming. Goemon’s ‘head’, which is on display in the city square, disappears, and strange events, blamed on the ghost of Goemon, start to occur in the city surrounding Toyotomi. Goemon wants to play with his prey. Of course, things aren’t always as straightforward as they appear to be, and Ieyasu Tokugawa constantly lurks in the background, waiting for his chance to destroy Toyotomi, so that he may rule the country.

This films marks the first time that director Satsuo Yamamoto steps out of the directors chair, replaced with Kazuo Mori. Both would go one to direct films in the Zatoichi film series, and cinematically, their styles are pretty similar. The film, ultimately following Goemon’s path of revenge, is at its core a very simplistic one, far more so than the previous two films, but writer Hajime Takaiwa, who scribed most of the films, injects it with a ridiculous amount of intrigue and lurking, that at times can boggle the mind. The resolution to the climatic finale of the first film is also somewhat lackluster. Of course, what it lacks in some areas, it makes up for in ninja battles and stealthy tactics. While it’s definitely not as great as the second film, which I personally enjoy the most out of the series, it is still a solid, if somewhat rushed, resolution to the story of Ishikawa Goemon and a fine addition to the series.

Read more by Matthew Hardstaff at his blog.

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