by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Samurai Assassin (1965)

Director: Kihachi Okamoto

Jack   A-

IMDB    7.6



   Set in 1860, inside Edo castle a group of assassins wait by the Gate to kill a Lord from the House of Ii who is trying to name the next Shogun. When the Lord doesn't show up as planned the group suspects there is a traitor in their midst.

   Is it Niiro (Toshiro Mifune), an impoverished ronin who dreams of becoming a samurai and likes to drink and womanize? Or is it Kurihara, a former high ranking samurai, now a scholar, who befriends Niiro? They have one thing in common. They are both excellent swordsmen.

   When the assassins find out that it is Kurihara who is the traitor, they want Niiro to kill him. Niiro decides that he is going to have to go through with it, the alternative is being thrown of the group. In a quick duel Niiro kills Kurihara but Niiro later learns he was not the traitor and he is devastated.

   When the assassins find out that Lord is really Niiro's father, he becomes the next target, even though he does not know the truth. Nine men are sent for him but he handles them easily. Niiro then rushed to join in the assassination not knowing that it was his co-conspirators that had just set him up.

   The action finally heats up when they attack the Lord's guard. After a vicious battle Niiro finally breaks through and kills the Lord, and then carries his head off on his sword.

   Talky and a little slow, it is still a very good movie with an excellent performance by Toshiro Mifune.