Though acclaimed as a magnificent return to form, Kurosawa's first Japanese film since Dodes'ka-den is something of a disappointment. The basic story, clearly Shakespearean in inspiration, is fine enough: a disreputable thief is spared execution due to his physical resemblance to the lord of a warring clan, in order that the enemy might not learn of the lord's death in battle. Ample scope, then, for the depiction of deceitful intrigues in court, not to mention the occasionally touching attempts of the double to acquire the noble demeanour of the clan chief. But for all Kurosawa's splendidly colourful recreation of 16th century Japan, and though Nakadai's performance is impressive enough, it's all ultimately rather empty and tedious; it could easily have been cut by almost an hour, while the grating Morricone-like score only serves to underline the fact that the director fails to achieve the emotional force of his finest work.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide|