Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Certificate: 15
Available now


Shingen, a powerful warlord lies dying from his battle wounds, Shingen orders his clan to find a double to replace him - to keep his death secret so that his enemies will not attack. The man chosen for this role is called Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior). However, Kagemusha turns out to be a petty criminal who must somehow transform himself into a great leader and command the allegiance of 25 000 Samurai warriors...

Kagemusha is a sprawling epic, a masterpiece of structure and character and, quite rightly, a winner of the 1980 Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm. While not quite as good as director Kurosawa's Seven Samurai or Ran, this film still ranks highly in his list of works, although its stagy opening sequence and stylised acting may not be to the liking of mainstream western audiences.

The film takes place in 16th Century Japan where a powerful warlord is deciding if a convicted criminal can be used as his double to protect against assassination attempts. Political intrigue and honour play central to the movie but the pivotal action surrounds the thief's decision - should he act as double, thereby escaping immediate death, or take up the public appearance of the warlord and risk his life to save the man in whose name he was to have been killed?

Kurosawa's work was initially inspired by Hollywood but such were his achievements that he returned the favour, giving the inspiration back to US directors such as Steven Spielberg.

Kagemusha is a very good work by a very great man.

Anthony Clark


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