The Tale of Osaka Castle (1961)

THE TALE OF OSAKA CASTLE (1961)
aka Daredevil in the Castle, Osaka jo monogatari
Article 2876 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-23-2009
Posting Date: 6-28-2009
Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
Featuring Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Yuriko Hoshi
Country: Japan

A mountain Samurai comes to Osaka to get a job at the castle, but becomes embroiled in a political struggle that is threatening to turn into a war.

The fantastic content is pretty light here; there’s a short sequence in a scary underground cave with bats and snakes, and I’m not familiar enough with Japanese history to know if this is based on a real historical event or if it’s a borderline fantasy. Like the other Toshiro Mifune movies I’ve seen that were not directed by Kurasawa, it’s not up to the level of the movies he acted in for that great director, but Mifune is still a charismatic and appealing actor. Here he’s a lot of fun as a brawling loose cannon who just wants to keep out of the war, but finds himself drawn into it when he falls in love with a woman at the castle. He uses humor and body language exquisitely, and he’s particularly good in the action sequences. The story gets a bit confusing at times, but the final battle sequence is quite exciting as Mifune must find a way to light a wagon full of gunpowder on a bridge as the enemy rapidly approaches. The cast also features Akikhiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura.

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