The Master Spearman

  • 99'
  • Japan
  • 1960
Sharing some of the stylized theatricality of lighting and sets in The Mad Fox, this marvellous chambara film is perhaps Uchida's strongest critique of samurai codes. The ambivalence about warrior ethics in The Bloody Spear of Mount Fuji extends in The Master Spearman into a ferocious and often funny satire of such ideals as loyalty to clan, the glory of battle and the great bravery of committing seppuku. A retainer who goes by the alias of Kurodo of the Spear becomes increasingly disenchanted with the intrigue, corruption and incessant killing of warrior society, and after drunkenly avoiding ritual suicide, withdraws into the country to a life of simple pleasures: food, drink, family. His quiet rebellion soon ends and, forced out of seclusion, Kurodo unleashes a sluice of slaughter in the Battle of Sekigahara. Whether this frenzied finale affirms or contradicts the foregoing critique is debatable, but the film's masterful control of tone, from broad comedy to pointed satire to tragedy, is not. Especially striking is the Mizoguchean sense of inevitability and suffering in Uchida's treatment of the two actresses who love Kurodo. (JQ)
Director
Uchida Tomu
Country of production
Japan
Production Year
1960
Festival Edition
IFFR 2005
Length
99'
Medium
35mm
Original title
Sake to onna to yari
Language
Japanese
Producers
Toei Company, Ltd., Okawa Hiroshi
Sales
Toei Company, Ltd.