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Film / Vendetta for a Samurai

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Vendetta for a Samurai is a 1952 film written by Akira Kurosawa and directed by Kazuo Mori, starring Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Daisuke Kato and Toranosuke Ogawa. The film tells the events of the Igagoe vendetta.

Matagoro (Chiaki) killed Kazuma Watanabe’s brother. Watanabe seeks vengeance and enlists the help of Mataemon Araki (Mifune), a samurai as inexperienced as he is, who gathers a ragtag band of men to ambush the samurai who serve Matagoro’s clan. Unfortunately, one of those samurai happens to be Jinzaemon Kawai (Shimura), a friend of Mataemon.


As they wait for Matagoro’s party to arrive at Kagiya corner, Mataemon is in turmoil about whether or not to kill his old friend.

Tropes related to this film:

  • Anti-Villain: Jinzaemon Kawai had no part in the killing of Kazuma's brother, he just unfortunately happens to be serving Matagoro's clan.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Jinzaemon and Mataemon are close friends, but they're from two different clans and so are forced to fight each other.
  • Flashback: A ton of them.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Invoked with Mataemon Araki, who is fabled as a great hero but is more complex than that.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Likewise invoked with Jinzaemon Kawai, who is remembered as a villain rather than a man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Meaningful Rename: Mago's name was originally Rokusuke, but his father insisted that he take his name.
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  • Mood Whiplash: Magoemon the Elder's sendoff of Rokusuke and Buemon is a solemn event. Then he gets angry at a sleeping man offscreen for killing the mood, and the scene becomes funny. It becomes serious again soon afterwards.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Buemon, although like everyone else in the ambush, he was killed in a clumsy scuffle.
  • The Voice: Rihei in Mago's flashback, who is not seen but is heard snoring offscreen, having slept through Mago and Bue's little going-away party.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Mataemon is not a skilled swordsman but he is a good strategist.
  • Wimp Fight: The whole duel at Kagiya Corner is basically this. Everyone involved is an inexperienced fighter and neither side is eager to kill the other.