Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune star in the story of a wandering samurai who exists in a maelstrom of violence. A gifted swordsman—plying his trade during the turbulent final days of Shogunate rule—Ryunosuke (Nakadai) kills without remorse, without mercy. It is a way of life that ultimately leads to madness. —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
Nakadai embodies psychotic evil in this bleak samurai picture that ends so unconventionally that you're almost glad the sequels weren't made since it would dampen the apocalyptic effect of it's violent conclusion.