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Rating: 8 stars

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Japan mubi 1800s prostitute brothel samurai nikkatsu period piece

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Seen on: 04/14/2020

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A Sun-Tribe Myth from the Bakumatsu Era (1957)

Directed by Yuzo Kawashima

Comedy | Drama

Most recently watched by sleestakk

Overview

Saheji, a man-about-town, gets stuck at a high-class brothel when he can’t pay the bill. He makes the best of his situation by performing various tasks amidst the tumult of the end of the shogunate—but always by making sure to get a “commission” for his troubles.

Length 110 minutes

Actors

Kô Nishimura | Taiji Tonoyama | Nobuo Kaneko | Takeshi Katô | Frankie Sakai | Kin Sugai | Kenjiro Uemura | Yôko Minamida | Hideaki Nitani | Akitake Kôno | Hisano Yamaoka | Akira Kobayashi | Yûjirô Ishihara | Shoichi Ozawa | Tomio Aoki | Sachiko Hidari | Akifumi Inoue | Hyôe Enoki | Masumi Okada | Zenji Yamada | Sanpei Mine | Masao Oda | Akio Miyabe | Ikunosuke Koizumi | Yasukiyo Umeno | Izumi Ashikawa | Kazuo Kumakura | Toshio Takahara | Reiko Arai | Toyo Fukuda | Chigusa Takayama | Akio Muto | Toshiyuki Ichimura | Ryusei Ito | Nobuo Kawakami | Aomi Shiba | Chiyoko Shimizu | Yoko Takeuchi | Hiroshi Katô

Viewing Notes

Definitely one thing that got me excited to renew my MUBI account (besides getting 3 mos for free) was being able to catch the last two Kawashima films in his retrospective. This movie in particular is #4 on Kinema Junpo’s Top Japanese Films (of 200 films) so it’s great to finally catch it as it’s not available by other means to view (to my knowledge), which is a shame given the accolades its received.

This really is a super fun movie and a nice swing in the other direction from the Hungry Soul films, which can be somewhat dour by comparison. “Sun in the Last Days of the Shogunate” as it’s listed on MUBI is dramedy in the best sense, leaning more towards the comedy. There’s one scene specifically that had me burst into laughter as it’s played so well. Frankie Sakai is at the heart of the movie playing the grifter working at this brothel for tips b/c he couldn’t pay his bill. He’s a clever guy and a bit of jack of all trades as he helps a variety of folks from the prostitutes to patrons as well as some samurai. Of course there’s always ulterior motive in his assistance. Yoko Minamida is present again as one of the main prostitutes (she’s also involved in the LOL scene) and she is stunning as ever.

There is a big cast of Nikkatsu regulars and it’s understandable how this movie would fall near the top of Kinema Junpo’s list; it feels modern for its time despite being a period piece. And the humor is timeless.

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