by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Ronin-gai (1962)

Director: Kazuo Kuroki

Jack   C-

IMDB    6.6



   The movie open up in 1836, long after the glory days of the samurai. Three ronin: Bull, Gennai and Horo hang around a house of ill repute. A string of murders, killing some prostitutes, disrupt their already tattered lives.

   The movie opens up with two ronin fighting in the rain. When one is cut down, another rushes in and grabs his sword. The ronin look just as beat up as the prostitutes they hang around with. Bull lets workers fight him with sticks for money, and then becomes a bouncer at the house of prostitution. Oshin is afraid to go out on the streets because of what has been happening. A drunk Gennai, who know has a sword, disrupts the house, and Bull intervenes. A sorry excuse of a fight breaks out between the two, and then they go and drink with Horo, another ronin.

   Bull is in love with one of the prostitutes, Oshin; and Oshin supports Gennai; her old philandering lover who has come back to her.

   We then meet Sakichi, a former samurai, who now sells birds for a living. Then we see Hano testing swords for a lord on recently deceased bodies. How low he has sunk. Next we see Oshin and Gennai together: she knows he is no good but she loves him.

   Next we see a hooded and masked swordsman who strikes down and kill another prostitute. Later another prostitute is led out at night where she meets a group of masked samurai. The girls are really scared now, but they have to work to live.

   Horo it seems also loves Oshin, but is afraid to take her away. Then some retainers of the Shogun come to the House and tell the women that engaging in base conduct would be punished by death. When they insult Oshin, Gennai and Horo stand up, hands at sword. Bull then calls all the retainers out. but then offers to work for them. Bull acts like a dog and gets one of their sandals in his mouth.

   When Oshin gets caught by the retainers in their masks. They then tie her up and are going to pull her apart with bulls. The motley crew of ronin of the village will eventuall band together and come out and meet the retainers of the Shogun. Gennai comes out with five swords and makes quick work of a dozen. Horo joins in and another dozen bite the dust. Sakichi then joins in, coming on a horse with his banner. Bull finally joins in, chanting about bygone days, he kills himself but takes the evil lord with him. The fight is almost comic in tone, but with a lot of blood.

   Beautifully filmed, the movie shows the samurai in the years where being a samurai had no real meaning. The movie is something of a soap opera and is a little long, and the plot is a little murky, but overall it is still a decent movie. Could have been better.