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The Great Killing (1964)

Director: Eiichi Kudo

Jack   A-

IMDB    7.5



   The second movie in Eiichi Kudo's Samurai Revolution trilogy. It begins with text telling us that in the reign of the 4th Shogun, Ietsuna, every farm was hit with oppressive new taxes. The farmers revolted and over 1300 received harsh punishments. The junior Elder, Lord Hotta was interrogated on suspicion of conspiracy of trying to remove the Great Elder, Sakai. Hojo, the Lord Inspector General, is in charge of finding the conspirators.

An announcement was then made from Inspector Hojo calling for the arrest of all the guilty. None of them are to escape capture. Nakajima comes to his friend Heishiro's house begging to be hidden. When the guards come for Nakajima, Heishiro tries to defend him, an he gets arrested. When his wife runs to him one of the guards kills her.

Some men are hired to attack the guards, and a hooded woman looks on. The men are killed but Heishiro escapes. Men are tortured for information as the conspirators are hunted down. Heishiro, who was a Shogunate bodyguard, was not involved, but now he is hunted.

Saiki can't prove Lord Hotta was responsible, but he needs to get the proof. Lord Kofu, younger brother of the Shogun, arrives at Lord Sakai's. Kofu promises Saiki that when he becomes the fifth Shogun, Sakai will be responsible for running the nation.

The hooded woman finds Heishiro (Sir Jimbo) and shows him his dead wife. The hooded woman is Lady Miya. She introduces Jimbo to Hoshino, a happy family man and ronin who is part of the conspiracy. Hoshino agrees to hide Jimbo. Jimbo asks Hoshino why he joined the conspiracy.
Hoshino: "A life that is without hope ... that's fine, I'll endure it. But we can barely get food to eat, and yet there is no one in th world to whom we can appeal. And that's the world of my children's generation, And it will be the same for my grandchildren. I can't endure that. Someone has to do something about it."

Miya then goes looking for Okabe who is one of the leaders of the allies. She finds him drunk, cracking under the pressure of being hunted. Miya ends up sleeping with the crazed Okabe to calm him down." She says "Sir Okabe ... Do not forget that we are comrades. And do not forget that we have a mission." Miya is making great sacrifices for the cause.

Okabe decides to turn himself in, and tell everything he knows, hoping to get off easy. Miya hears him, and then Jimbo kills him. Jimbo is now with the conspirators. Jimbo tells the ronin he has been staying with: "I killed someone for th first time. I wanted to unburden myself to someone like you. Now I've come to see that i have been fooling myself. Not about you ... but about the world. 'Don't bother anyone, and let no one bother you.' Isn't that what you said? But do you know how much you bother others by your own inaction? Have you ever thought about that? people run into unexpected calamities because of politics. They lose their jobs for no reason... They lose their homes.. They lose their wives and families. Such things are considered normal in this world. It's to be expected in a world where on man has absolute power. And the men who support this despotic world are samurai like me who hold official positions, and samurai like you, who sulk about the world but do nothing about it. If this is the world that samurai have created, then a single samurai can change it."

Miya meets with Kusaka, a crazed samurai turned monk, who lives to kill the great evil Sakai. Miya wants him to join the alliance. Kusaka then rapes her.

Meanwhile, no evidence can be found against Hotta and he is reinstated as a Junior Elder. A dying man then confesses to Hojo that Yamaga Soko, a military strategist, is the ringleader of the conspirators. He has made many powerful connections through his school. Hojo needs evidence against such a powerful man. Once Soko was a disciple of Hojo, even though Hojo is younger. Hojo expelled him because of different views on ruling the world and Soko formed his own school.

Hojo goes to see Soko Yamaga, and Miya, who is Soko's niece greets them. Hojo says that he has heard she looks beautiful in a hood. Soko asks if the rumor is true that the Sakai has aligned himself with the Shogun's younger brother and will become a Regent. Hojo now knows that Soko is in with the conspiracy and can not be swayed.

Hojo orders his men to capture Yamaga and everyone in the house. Yamaga sends out word to all his disciples among the Daimyo and Shogunate retainers that he is immediately resuming lectures on military tactics. Yamaga's powerful disciples soon come to his house, and their presence thwarts Hojo's plan to arrest him.

Yamaga meets with the conspirators and decides that the best plan is to kill Kofu Saisho, the Shogun's younger brother, because Sakai is too well protected. Without Kofu, Sakai will not have access to power. Yamaga says that Sakai is going to visit a temple tomorrow and Hojo will deploy all his men there. Then is the time they can strike at Kofu. Yamaga comes up with a plan to have Kofu change his travel plans, so they can attack him in a more advantageous spot. Yamaga says: "Your actions will affect everyone in the world."

When Kusaka tries to take advantage of Miya again, she slashes him, and then he chokes her to death.

Inspector General Hojo then figures out that Yamaga's plan is to go after Kofu. Yamaga's men divert Kofu and his group in the town and then the battle begins. Most of the conspirator's men and many of Tofu's men have died. Sakei then comes in to town and joins with Kofu, who has survived the carnage.

When Kofu and Sakei come out of a house laughing as they walk over the dead, it is too much for Jimbo who attacks and kills Kofu.

Director Eiichi Kudo said that the story was an allegory representing the violent student protest movement of early 1960's Japan. The students were rebelling against the historical viewpoint in Japan of obligation to authority even in the face of injustice.

A really good samurai film that needs to be seen.