Made as a genre quickie, this shatteringly violent movie has entered Japanese film history as a classic anatomy of militarism - and, incidentally, the first movie to be frank about homosexual relations between samurai. Fresh from the countryside, a wide-eyed young man (Okawa, excellent) arrives in Kyoto in 1864 and manages to join the elite Shinsen-gumi. Brutalised physically and mentally during his training but sustained by an illicit liaison with a servant girl (Fuji), he survives to expose the truth about the way the force is run and the very dark secrets in its history. More radical in its way than contemporary 'new wave movies' by the likes of Oshima and Shinoda.
Cast and crew