[[quoteright:228:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/KAGEMUSHA_JAP_5472.JPG]]

->''"To occupy Kyoto, to fly my flags in the capital, has been my long-cherished dream. But... if something should happen to me, do not pursue that dream. Remember: my death must not be made known. Keep it a secret, for at least three years. Guard our domain. Never move from it. Do not move! If you ignore my order and set out to attack, our Takeda clan will be no more. Heed my words! This... is my final wish."''
-->'''Shingen Takeda'''

''Kagemusha'' (影武者) is a 1980 film by Creator/AkiraKurosawa and Creator/IshiroHonda. The title (literally "Shadow Warrior" in Japanese) is a term used for an impersonator. It is set in the [[JidaiGeki Sengoku period of Japanese history]] and tells the story of a lower-class criminal who is taught to impersonate a dying warlord in order to dissuade opposing lords from attacking the newly vulnerable clan. The warlord whom the ''kagemusha'' impersonates is based on ''daimyo'' Takeda Shingen, and the film ends with the climactic 1575 Battle of Nagashino.

Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a [[EpicFilm historical epic]] that is also a meditation on the nature of power.

Portraying both UsefulNotes/TakedaShingen and the ''kagemusha'' is Tatsuya Nakadai, prized theater actor who has been working with Kurosawa as early as ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}''. Tsutomu Yamazaki, another well-known character actor, potrays Takeda Nobukado, Shingen's brother and a former ''kagemusha'' of Shingen himself. Daisuke Ryu plays the younger and more ambitious UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga.

Produced by Creator/GeorgeLucas and Creator/FrancisFordCoppola, admirers of the Japanese master, the film was described by Kurosawa as a dress rehearsal for ''Film/{{Ran}}'', which was released five years later. (Nakadai and Ryu would later reunite as father-and-son Lord Hidetora and Saburo, respectively, in ''Ran''.)
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!! ''Kagemusha'' provides examples of:
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Nobukado mentioned to Kagemusha how, when he was serving as Shingen's ''kagemusha'' himself, how he wanted to be his own man, but knows he can never dare subvert or surpass his elder brother:
--> '''Nobukado''': ''I often [[DareToBeBadass wanted to be myself, to be free]]. [[SubvertedTrope But now I think it was selfish of me]]. [[TheRemnant The shadow of a man can never stand up and walk on its own]]. [[HappinessInSlavery I was my brother's shadow. Now that I have lost him... I don't know what to do]].''
* AmbitionIsEvil: Shingen comments he would be capable of doing anything to become the ruler of Japan, and he [[CardCarryingVillain describes himself as evil]].
* AntagonistInMourning:
** [[spoiler: When the death of Takeda Shingen is finally revealed, his rival Oda Nobunaga]] sings a song of mourning.
** The Criterion Collection's restored DVD edition reinserts a scene cut out from the original release, showing another daimyo/warlord in Buddhist outfit visibly distraught and praying for his soul, most likely UsefulNotes/UesugiKenshin. ([[FriendlyRivalry Shingen and Kenshin's amicable rivalry]] is [[TruthInTelevision well-documented in Japanese history]].)
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:" I only stole a few coins. A petty thief. But you've killed hundreds and robbed whole domains. Who is wicked, you or I?"
* BadassGrandpa: Shingen at age 51 is an undoubted badass, but special mention goes to Masakage Yamagata who is older than Shingen, yet still has the stones to try and talk sense into Shingen, his feudal master.
* BodyDouble[=/=]IdentityImpersonator: The thief is offered the role of warlord Takeda Shingen, in exchange for sparing his life. EmergencyImpersonation variety.
* BoxedCrook: The thief's life is spared in order to act as a top-secret double for an identical-looking feudal warlord.
* CharacterTics: Among many of Shingen's mannerisms, his handling of a resting table and fondling his mustache was most iconic, so much that ''kagemusha'' takes much time in perfecting these to convince Shingen's household.
* CurbStompBattle: The Battle of Nagashino.
* ElCidPloy: The death of Takeda Shingen brings all sorts of DecapitatedArmy related misfortunes for his clan, so the impersonation scheme is set in motion. DoubleSubverted as after the initial evaluation the thief is deemed unfit for the task and the clan leaders are about to reveal the truth, but this changes again when the thief fully commits to his role.
* GeneralFailure: Played with, in tandem with GloryHound; initially defied as Katsuyori's audacity pays off when his risky attack forces the other Takeda leaders with a more experienced judgment to support him against their will and the clan succeeds in taking a fortress that Shingen himself never was able to take. In the end [[spoiler: Katsuyori Takeda disregarding the defensive strategy set by his father and the other generals leads to catastrophic results]].
* GrayRainOfDepression: Kagemusha's last scene in the clan compound, [[spoiler: when he is refused a goodbye with his "grandson" and expulsed]].
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: UsefulNotes/TakedaShingen, UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga and UsefulNotes/TokugawaIeyasu among others.
* IdenticalStranger
* JidaiGeki: Japan, late XVI century.
* KillThemAll: [[spoiler: The Takeda clan perishes under [[GloryHound Katsuyori's]] poor leadership in the final battle. Kagemusha dies too. It's implied some of the leaders [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere fled in time]] however.]] Serving as TruthInTelevision as well, as the Battle of Nagashino was the pivotal battle heralding the downward spiral of the Takeda clan.
* NoNameGiven: [[EverybodyCallsHimBarkeep The thief/kagemusha]].
* NotSoDifferent[=/=]InsultBackfire: The thief resents being called scum by Shingen and remarks that a bloody warlord has no right to claim the higher moral ground. Shingen concedes the point.
* OffingTheOffspring: Shingen mentions he killed his son, and also [[TheExile exiled]] his father
* PetTheDog: Kagemusha's tender relation with his fake grandson. He is a better and warmer grandfather than the dreadful Shingen ever was.
* ReplacementScrappy: How Shingen's warlords viewed Katsuyori in his overblown belief that he is a better leader than Shingen himself. [[CurbStompBattle All of these turned out well-founded in the disastrous Battle of Nagashino]]. [[invoked]]
** RealitySubtext: Subverted, in a sense, on what happened on set. Originally, the role of Shingen and the ''kagemusha'' was to be played by Shintaro Katsu, a boiseterous comedic actor who has already portrayed badass, gruff and tragic characters (like the assassin Okada Izo in ''Tenchu!'' and ''{{Zatoichi}}''). However, Katsu managed to [[EpicFail anger Kurosawa at first day of shooting]] and thus left the production. Tatsuya Nakadai was thus taken in to replace him. Critics would later on say Nakadai's interpretation of the role (both of the ''kagemusha'' and the late Shingen) lent it a somber, grave mien that worked better than if Kurosawa continued with Katsu.
* SarcasticConfession: How Kagemusha deals with his concubines when they become suspicious. It works. [[spoiler: For a while.]]
* StrongFamilyResemblance: Shingen's brother Nobukado also bears a very strong resemblance to the warlord, and has impersonated him in the past.
* TruthInTelevision: The presence of Catholic Christians in Nobunaga's domains. Nobunaga, being a patron of Western culture and food, was very lenient in giving them living space and setting up churches, [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade in contrast to his reputation as a ruthless warlord]]. [[HistoryMarchesOn Considering the xenophobic tendencies of Japanese at the time]], though, it may have actually contributed to that reputation.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: At the beginning of the film Shingen defends his [[OffscreenVillainy historical villainous acts]] as a mean to a good goal, the country needs a powerful ruler and the unification of Japan would stop the bloodsheds.
* TheWrongfulHeirToTheThrone: The final part of the movie.
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