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Kill! (Criterion Collection) (1968)

Cast: Etsushi Takahashi, Yuriko Hoshi, Eijiro Tono, more...
Director: Kihachi Okamoto
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Action, Samurai, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 115 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
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In this pitch-black action comedy by Kihachi Okamoto, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute. One, previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai. The other, a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters. But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels who are under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro, Kill! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established chanbara classics and seasoning them with a little Italian western.


  • Original theatrical trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Darkly Comedic Samurai Western by giantrobot November 16, 2005 - 5:05 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Part of Criterion's new Sixties Swordplay Classics box set, Kill! is a fantastic little gem based on the same novel that Akira Kurosawa used as the source for Sanjuro. However, this version stars Tatsuya Nakadai, sometimes known as the "Eighth Samurai" (see Chuck Stephen's excellent essay about Nakadai's career).

While the story here of Nadakai as a disinterested yakuza who ends up pulling all the strings between competing groups is highly entertaining, it's perhaps more fascinating to watch the post-Leone influences on the traditional chanbara genre. From the western music to the dusty desolate town to the cynical view of the decaying feudal samurai society, it's quite a cynical and ironic take on the samurai film. While it still touches on all the large issues such as the quest for honor and class conflicts, it does so almost incidentally, never weighing you too far from the plot.

More than anything, it's quite slyly funny! There's a lot of quiet black humor here, making this a surprisingly captivating time.

(Oh, and don't miss Susumu Kurobe, who played Hiyata on Ultraman, in a small role!)

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.29)
38 Votes
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