Samurai Spy

1965 Eastern Western

Rating: 12/20

Plot: People in Japan stop getting along, have a war, and then stay mad at each other. A baffling amount of characters with nearly-identical names and indistinguishable wardrobes and personalities show up and prowl and pussyfoot around. They get confused about who they are, probably because they can't tell each other apart because their names and wardrobes are similar, so they backstab each other and then some of them stab in the front, too.

I'm generally a sucker for these samurai flicks. This had more weapon variety than others (flying stars and cute little shapely knives) and mute ninjas and was shot in crisp black and white. Typical of the genre, there were individual shots that were just beautifully structured--weeds blowing in just the right places, clouds and rivers as background characters, snippets of the story told in shadows and fog and slow-motion blades. The fight choreography, however, was really clumsy and lacked the poetry and emotion of superior samurai movies. The plot, driven mostly by long stretches of explanatory dialogue and (at the beginning) a narrator who seemed to be in a hurry, was convoluted and clunky. So many characters (none which I really liked), so many plot twists (none which I really followed), so many clans and place names (none which I could connect with anything). More than likely, a person a little bit smarter than me would have followed this more easily and given it a higher rating.


Apparently this was Sly Stallone's first role. It's uncredited, but you can clearly see that it's him in the picture I took. This would have been a full five years before he played "Stud" in the 1970 masterpiece The Party at Kitty and Stud's. Coincidentally (perhaps!), the subtitle about five seconds after this shot has a character saying, "Give it to me, Stud. Give it all to me. Go ahead, Stud, give me all your juice," just like Kitty in that first Stallone credited role.

Here I am enjoying snacks and watching Samurai Spy:

1 comment:

winter rates said...

I shelved this one today. Considered it briefly but passed.

It seems damn hard to rate above a 12 in your world.

when snaking I prefer the bleach with color guard.