In this pitch-black action comedy by Kihachi Okamoto, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute. One, previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai. The other, a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters. But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels who are under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, Kill! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established chanbara classics and seasoning them with a little Italian western. —The Criterion Collection
Kihachi Okamoto (岡本 喜八 Okamoto Kihachi?, February 17, 1924–February 19, 2005) was a Japanese film director who has worked in several different genres, including jidaigeki.
Born in Yonago, Okamoto attended Meiji University, but was drafted in 1943 and entered World War II during its most difficult hours, an experience that had a profound effect on his later film work, one third of which dealt with war. Finally graduating after the war, he entered the Toho studies in 1947 and worked as an assistant under such directors as Mikio Naruse, Masahiro Makino, Ishirō Honda, and Senkichi Taniguchi. He made his debut as a director in 1958 with All About Marriage.
Okamoto directed almost 40 films and wrote the scripts for at least 24, in a career that spanned almost six decades. He worked in a variety of genres, but most memorably in action genres such as the jidaigeki and war films. But he was known for throwing “curve balls”, or making films with a twist. Inspired to become a filmmaker… read more
If this was the final exam for Samurai Movies 101 I would surely flunk out. I just don’t get it. I see funny things happening on the screen but I’m not laughing. As a matter of fact, I’m yawning. There’s more than a little story, more than a little talk, more than a little humor and more than a little spaghetti in this picture. About the only thing I enjoyed here was seeing one of my favorites, Tatsuya Nakadai, use his patented “Piercin’ Gaze” in comedic situations for a change. But even that wore thin after the millionth time. I love a good samurai movie (like “Sanjuro” for instance) but I HATE spaghetti westerns and “Kill” crosses the line once too often for my taste. No, wait, it cross that line a jillion times too often! “Something bad is going to happen… I can feel it,” says one of the characters… it doesn’t matter which one… something bad has happened all right: 114 minutes of big screen, black & white, bad.