Kagemusha (1980)

Kagemusha (1980)

1980 | PG | 180 Minutes

Action | Drama | History | War

When a warlord dies, a peasant thief is called upon to impersonate him, in order to protect his clan from appearing weak and vulnerable. But he finds himself haunted by the warlord’s spirit as we...

Overall Rating

9 / 10
Verdict: Great

User Review

  • Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior proves how important leadership is in a conflict. It tells the story of a powerful warlord, Shingen, in Japan's feudal conflict. He is wounded and before succumbing to them he orders his clan to find a double so that his enemies will not attack. I found this to be a rather interesting, enthralling and captivating piece of cinema. The study of imitation not just through physical embodiment, but also in mind. The double was a petty thief, all of sudden is then given power and responsibility of an entire clan. The gradual process of him being selfish to then becoming a role model was executed brilliantly. The beauty of it is that you can see how he is also convincing himself, the original warlord's family love him just as much as the original and he succumbs to this love. It's a different tradition, he came from following no rules to now creating them. Tatsuya Nakadai performed really well, his facial expressions were extremely emotive. I could see the fear in his eyes and the terror of bloodshed. But, again, the star of the show is Akira Kurosawa who really was a technical genius behind the camera. The first scene alone was a five minute one take shot. What a statement! Already I was hypnotised by his directing methods. His use of colour, slow panning shots during the dramatic scenes and then the frantic quick cuts during the war scenes. The production design and costumes were authentic, definitely felt like 1500s Japan. I like how different sub-clans had different coloured armour and banners, it made distinguishing the characters much easier. It's a long run time of 159 minutes and yet it didn't feel like it all, there is always something happening on screen. My only negative would be the heavy political script, there were times where I had no idea who was who or what was what. So many castle names and so many clans, I felt like I needed a notebook. Having said that, I am extremely susceptible to traditional Japan and their culture, not to mention the great performances and direction. Close to perfection!