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Film / Red Lion

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Red Lion (Akage), lit. "Red Hair", is a 1969 Japanese film directed by Kihachi Okamoto, and starring Toshiro Mifune.

Gonzo (Mifune) is a peasant turned foot soldier who returns home in an officer's wig, proclaiming that there will be new political reform and learns that a government official has been swindling them. So, Gonzo becomes a revolutionary hero and leads his town against the system.

This movie provides examples of:


  • Anyone Can Die: Many characters are killed off during the film, including Gonzo, Yago, Tomi and Sanji
  • Arc Words: "Eijanaika!" ("Why not?")
  • Artful Dodger: Sanji is a charismatic teenage pickpocket who serves as Gonzo's second in command.
  • Big Eater: Gonzo is seen stuffing his face several times.
  • Camera Abuse: When Gonzo slashes an opponent he faced going to rescue the lumberjacks, blood gets splattered on the camera.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: Gonzo suffered this when he fell out of a persimmon tree.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gonzo really is an idiot, but very brave and strong.
  • Cute Kitten: Hanzo pets an adorable black one in one scene.
  • Disappeared Dad: Gonzo's father, who died before the events of the film. As did Tomi's father.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Gonzo, naturally
  • Driven to Suicide: At the start of the film, Gonzo talks to an old man who's preparing to hang himself. However, that man doesn't go through with it. Tomi's father killed himself before the events of the film.
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  • Due to the Dead: The ending has the crowd resisting the imperial soldiers to avenge Gonzo's death
  • Dumb Is Good: Gonzo as a child used to be arrogant and look down on people. When he fell out of the persimmon tree and hurt his head, he evidently became much nicer as well as much dumber.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Tomi goes down after killing Koma Tora.
    • Gonzo is shot down badmouthing the Restoration.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Gonzo's Badass Boast attempt falls flat.
    Gonzo: I'm the troop c-c-commander... Minato-mono... that's not it... Minamoto-no Gonzaburo Masamitsu!
  • Gilligan Cut: Gonzo begs and pleads for Sozo to give him his shaguma, and over and over Sozo says no. Cut to Gonzo happily riding home wearing the wig.
  • Gratuitous English: Sanji counts to ten in English, just to show off. The other young men in the village aren't impressed.
  • Heroic BSoD: Gonzo has a moment of doubt in the third act. Tomi brings him out of it, though.
    Gonzo: What everybody's looking up to is this Redhead, not me. (He idly picks at the red wig) So soon as I go away for a moment, they all start shouting that I'm a faker or a phony. And just because they couldn't find the money box... they've lost all faith in me. No matter how hard I try in the name of the Imperial Flag... the peasants don't give a damn... (He starts crying) And Mama just can't understand me. Maybe I'm a dimwit like she said!
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  • The Hero Dies: Gonzo is killed at the end of the film
  • In the Back:
    • Earlier, Kesaji is shot in the back.
    • One man is stabbed in the back.
    • Sanji is shot in the back trying to escape after infiltrating the imperial camp.
    • Tomi stabs Komatora with a katana
  • Imagine Spot: Several for what to do with Kintayu, Komatora and Gonzo.
  • Hot-Blooded: Sanji, a brash, straight talking young man.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Gonzo is a bit dim but he really cares about his people.
  • Large Ham: Gonzo, who is basically like Kikuchiyo if he had a speech impediment.
  • Laughing Mad: One of the prostitutes does this after Gonzo's death, under the impression that the gods were truly with him.
  • Mama Bear: Gonzo's mother joins the crowd of protesters to avenge Gonzo's death.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Gonzo is this to the Sekiho Troop for most of the film, believing their lies and genuinely wanting to do good for his people without realizing that it's all lies spread to prevent a peasant uprising.
  • Never Learned to Read: Gonzo can't read his own proclamations; he has to get a young man to read them for him.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Ten years before the events of the film, Komatora whipped Gonzo and had him tied up and thrown into the river. Amazingly, Gonzo survives.
  • Off With Their Heads!: Some of the Sekiho Troop are decapitated by imperial soldiers. Sanji gets a good look at their heads when he's cornered by the soldiers.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Gonzo has a bit of a stammer.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Tomi, having betrayed Gonzo, makes up for it by defying the imperial squadron and getting shot down as a result.
    • Gonzo, who believed in the Restoration for most of the film, calls it out and dies fighting for his town.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The battle between the peasants and the imperial soldiers is shown as bloody and chaotic.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gonzo goes on one after Sanji dies at the hands of imperial soldiers.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sanji.
  • Sad Clown: Gonzo becomes this over time.
  • Sand In My Eyes: When Gonzo learned about his father's death, he's so devastated that tears fill his eyes and he crudely and loudly wipes his nose. A group of youths ask him if he's crying. Gonzo denies it and insists that he has a dirty face and has to wash it.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Leans heavily on the cynical side, but doesn't disrespect the idealism of Gonzo and his village.
  • Spit Take: Gonzo does one on his own sword.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted. A mortally wounded Gonzo tries throwing his sword in self defence but it merely lands at the soldiers' feet.
  • Together in Death: All three couples in the film- Sanji and Osode, Hanzo and Oyo and Gonzo and Tomi- are dead by the end of the film.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The film goes right ahead and spoils Sanji's death. Double-subverted in that clip as we think it's Gonzo, but it's not, however Gonzo is killed at the end.
  • Unwitting Pawn: For most of the film, Gonzo is an unwitting pawn of the new imperial order, not realizing that he's spreading false promises and that he's being used for their own ends.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Gonzo believes that the world is changing for the better, but he couldn't be more wrong.


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