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The Forbidden Castle () LoadingSUBSCRIBE

6.4 (22)
  • Country:
  • Genres:
  • Release: 1959-02-24
  • Director: Yasushi Sasaki
  • Writers: Masashige Narusawa , Renzaburō Shibata
  • Language: Japanese
  • Stars: Kusuo Abe , Kensaku Hara , Kunio Kaga , Heisuke Kinami
  • Runtime: 92 min
  • Awards: N/A
  • AKA: Binan-jo , The Forbidden Castle , 美男城 (Japan)
  • Plot: FORBIDDEN CASTLE (1959), from Toei Pictures, tells a story of the aftermath of the famous Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which insured Ieyasu Tokugawa's hold on power and the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan for 268 years. The main focus here is on a lone samurai, Mido Shumenosuke (Kinnosuke Nakamura), who fought on the side of Tokugawa in the hopes of opposing his hated father on the field of battle, only to learn that his father, Lord Ino Morimasa (Kenji Susukida), had betrayed his sworn brother, Ishida Mitsunari, and sided with Tokugawa at the last minute, thus leading to the defeat of the Toyotomi Clan. Despite throwing his lot in with the winner, Morimasa is looked upon with contempt by Tokugawa and his allies for his act of betrayal and they strategize to remove him from power and replace him with his heir, if they can find him. When Sudo Yorinosuke, Mido's childhood friend and longtime rival, asserts that Mido had died in battle, despite knowing differently, he gets appointed to replace Morimasa himself. Sudo then summons his team of assassins to track down and kill Mido. There's a lot of back and forth and Mido manages to prevail, despite some setbacks, as he heads resolutely toward Hisaka Castle, where his father is holed up, with revenge on his mind. In the course of his journey, he is aided by a pair of sidekicks and three women, one of whom, Princess Mio (Keiko Okawa), has some power, and another of whom, Asaji (Satomi Oka), is a loyal servant of Lord Morimasa. Mido eventually gets back to Hisaka Castle too late. Tragedy ensues and the two rival samurai, Mido and Sudo, eventually confront each other. The one who suffers the most in all of this is Chigusa (Hiroko Sakuramachi), Sudo's sister and Mido's childhood sweetheart, whose brief reunion with Mido ends badly. Mido wants to end their relationship because he is quite certain he will die in his mission. Having his farewell tea with her, he is poisoned and winds up a prisoner, all a result of Sudo's machinations, although Sudo blames it on Chigusa. It's not the most intricate of stories to be found in a samurai classic and the print I saw for this review suffered from the deletion of two major scenes, both of which are clearly visible in clips seen in the film's trailer. The obvious ellipses seriously undermine the impact of the story. Also, it doesn't help that Mido, as played by Nakamura, is too noble to be true and offers a one-note portrayal of the character, a model of saintly resolution as he goes about his self-proclaimed mission, attracting allies from various quarters. Given the intrigue he faces on a steady basis, he should be a bit less naïve and gullible than he proves to be, such as when he starts to believe Sudo's lies about Chigusa. I needed to see a little more conflict within Mido, some self-doubt and vulnerability, anger and indecision, for the character to be truly believable. Nakamura was certainly capable of much more complexity in his characters.However, the film is beautifully shot- in color and widescreen--with elegant compositions, carefully crafted studio sets and costumes, and ample location work. Even the lesser samurai films of the 1950s and '60s had the kind of formal beauty that informs the best of Japanese cinema of the era. There are several good swordplay scenes, including one early on where Mido, fresh from the battlefield, confronts anti-Tokugawa remnants who are trying to abduct Princess Mio (in full armor), and takes them on with bloody results. Sadly, however, his big confrontation late in the film with Sudo and his men is one of the sequences missing from the cut I watched.I can't find much information about the cast or even the running time. IMDb has very little info about this film. The r.t. of the disc I watched was 93 minutes, but that's with two major sequences missing. I was able to find the names of the three actresses, Satomi Oka, Hiroko Sakuramachi, and Keiko Okawa, and identified them with their roles above. Venerable character actor Isao Yamagata (GATE OF HELL) also plays a key role in this as the noble who does Tokugawa's bidding. Tokugawa appears in two scenes as well, but I don't know who plays him.
  • IMDB:tt0186879
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