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Secret Of The Urn

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Directed by Hideo Gosha and starring the legendary Kinnosuke Nakamura (Kozure ôkami 1973, The Shogun’s Samurai 1978), The Secret of the Urn is the 1966 “remake” of Sadao Yamanaka’s classic 1935 film Tange Sazen.

After losing both an eye and an arm to treachery while on a mission for his clan, Samanosuke (Kinnosuke NAKAMURA) becomes a ronin who calls himself Tange Sazen. When a stolen urn that contains the secret to a treasure worth a million gold coins falls into his one remaining hand, all sorts of villains, including a high-ranking Shogunate minister, plot to relieve him of his burden — and his life.

“The Secret of the Urn certainly doesn’t succumb to subtlety, as Hideo Gosha retells the story of renegade ronin Tange Sazen in a vigorous and entertaining entry in the samurai genre. Consistently satisfying quality backing up the brisk-paced tale, this release comes with a strong Recommendation.” – DVD Talk

“Kinnosuke Nakamura is masterful in the role of Tange, and the secondary cast of characters is great…” – Anime Radiussecret-of-the-urn-pic-1

About the director: Hideo Gosha was born on February 26, 1929 in Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan. He was a director and writer, known for Goyokin (1969), Onimasa (1982) and Sword of the Beast (1965). He died on August 30, 1992

91 minutes on 1 disc / prod. yr 1966 / Japanese w/English sub-titles.

Includes several excellent text-based supplements: Program Notes and Bios — as well as an Image Gallery.

HOW TO ORDER:

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Shinsengumi Chronicles

shinsengumi-chronicles-anm-dv1459Based on the best-selling novel by Shimosawa Kan (creator of Zatoichi) and directed by Misumi Kenji (Lone Wolf and Cub).

“There are two sides to Misumi Kenji’s Shinsengumi Chronicles (aka I Want To Die a Samurai) that are compelling. As a depiction of a particular point in Japanese history, specifically around the suppression of a rebellion in 1800s Kyoto, the political energy it taps into starts slow, but builds to an intriguing simmer within the Shinsengumi’s conflict-riddled power struggle…. [and] as a meditation on a idealist’s perception of honor amid pragmatic conflicts, it also cracks open to a vein of interesting dramatic moments — especially when the content falls on calls for ritualistic suicide. DVD and the film both come with a firm Recommendation. DVD Talk

This 2010 action-packed epic stars Ichikawa Raizo as a honest man who joins the Shinsengumi out of admiration for its leader, Isami KONDO (Tomisaburo Wakayama), and because he wants to die as a samurai. But as his involvement grows, reality and idealism come into deadly conflict.

Starring Ichikawa Raizo and Wakayama Tomisaburo (as Kenzaburo Jo).

“The Shinsengumi were the elite police force of the late shogunate period. Some say they were elitists that used violence to get their way. Others say they were honorable men who had to be strict in order to keep peace in the land. Mizumi’s film shows a little from column A and a little from column B, making an above average samurai film that gives us plenty of the red stuff but also has some great political intrigue and corruption from the higher ups.” – CriterionCast

“…unlike many chanbara directors, Misumi never hesitated to show sword duels for what they were-ugly, chaotic, and bestial” – Shogun-ki

“Of the many films starring Raizo Ichikawa, possibly the hardest working actor at Daiei Studios, Shinsengumi Chronicles lingers in the mind for its portrait of a way of life about to collapse” – Coffee, Coffee

shinsengumi-still021“…a solid chambara film that features fantastic performances by Tomisaburo Wakayama (Lone Wolf and Cub series) and Raizo Ichikawa (Sleepy Eyes of Death series)” – Cinegeek

93 minutes on 1 disc / Japanese w/English sub-titles

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Samurai Vendetta (1959)

samurai-vendettaThe classic directed by Kazuo Mori and starring Raizô Ichikawa, Shintarô Katsu

Samurai Vendetta is a tragic tale of two honorable swordsmen whose clans are embroiled in a blood feud, and who vie for the same woman. Betrayal, dishonor and death ensue in this classic samurai story of love and revenge.

Samurai Vendetta (薄桜記 Hakuōki) is a 1959 Japanese chambara film directed by Kazuo Mori starring Raizo Ichikawa and Shintaro Katsu that was originally released by Daiei Film. It is a depiction of the early years of the samurai Horibe Yasubei, who was one of the Forty-seven Ronin.

The film is also known as Chronicle of Pale Cherry Blossoms, a poetic reference to the Forty-Seven Ronin

109 minutes on 1 disc / Japanese with English sub-titles
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Blind Menace, The (1960)

blind-menaceThe film that inspired the legendary Zatoichi Series.

Before he portrayed the legendary blind swordsman, Zatoichi, Shintaro KATSU played Suganoichi, a blind court masseur with a dark side. An outcast since birth, he learned from a young age that the only way to get ahead was to take advantage of others. Now an expert con-artist with a heart of coal, Suganoichi is on a vile quest for power, and everyone else will suffer along the way!

“…a flawless enhanced transfer of this B&W Daiei release” – DVD Talk

“It’s a testament to Katsu’s acting ability that he effortlessly pulls off not only the mannerisms of a blind person, but that he can make such a handicapped individual so reprehensible. It’s all the more jarring when comparing this dramatic feature with the blind masseur adventures Katsu would begin essaying two years later. If you ever wondered what an evil Zatoichi from an alternate universe would be like (without the sword fighting skills), this film will satisfy that curiosity.” – Cool Ass Cinema (restricted)

Blind Menace is a must see for Katsu fans or fans of Japanese cinema in general… a terrific character study with some incredible acting.” – Inside Pulse

91 minutes on 1 disc

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Graveyard of Honor (Takashi Miike) 2002

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The Takashi Miike 2002 re-imagining of the 1975 Kinji Fukasaku classic…

Rikuo Ishimatsu is a lowly dishwasher who unknowingly saves the life of a Yakuza Oyabun (Boss) and quickly rises to a position of power in his gang. Loyally supporting his Oyabun and his brother gangsters, Ishimatsu wreaks havoc on anyone who stands in their way, inevitably earning himself a trip to the slammer.

“With Graveyard of Honor Miike delivers another intense and violent crime drama, which is at the same time a fascinating character study and a confronting social document. In its portrayal of one man’s self-destruction, the film takes the violent core of the yakuza genre as far as it will go, redefining its limits much like Fukasaku’s film did in the mid-70s. Unlike Ichi the Killer (Koroshiya Ichi, 2001) there are no comic book moments of outrageous comedy or absurdity to alleviate the mood. This is not a movie to laugh or cheer at. It’s brutal, it’s raw, and it’s uncompromising, but it’s also thoughtful, deeply emotional, and rich in significance. Graveyard of Honour is further evidence of Takashi Miike’s rare abilities as a filmmaker.” – Midnight Eye, Visions of Japanese Cinema

“The premise of Graveyard of Honor—the rise and fall of a mad-dog gangster—is a familiar one, traced as early as The Public Enemy in 1931, if not earlier. What makes it different from most of its forebears (including White Heat [1949], both versions of Scarface [1932, 1983], and Kinji Fukasaku’s own Graveyard of Honor [1975]) is that Takashi Miike works to avoid any intimations of a narrative arc. Instead of setting up a pattern of hubris and comeuppance, Miike organizes the film as an accumulation of detail, with a special preoccupation with how things work: the way yakuza from different families forge alliances, how a prisoner can give himself salmonella to get into the infirmary, how the body reacts to heroin. For all the instructive, caught-in-the-moment observation, though, it is a frighteningly amoral film, less an object lesson in criminal psychopathology than an attempt to meet that psychopath on his level.” – MUBI

“It ends like a lot of Yakuza movies, but the trip from A to B is a wild, crazy ride. Ostensibly a remake of director Kinji Fukusaku’s 1975 film of the same name, it is much more a re-imagining.” – YakuzaFilm.com

131 minutes on 2 discs

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Shinobi no Mono (Collectors’ Set)

shinobi-no-mono-setThe first four Shinobi no Mono films, starring the legendary ICHIKAWA Raizo,  in one special box set collector’s set!

Starring Raizo Ichikawa, one of the biggest stars in Japanese film history, the series launched the first ninja boom in Japan.

The set contains all 4 dynamic historical epics, and features realistic ninja techniques & details of Samurai / Ninja society.

Considered by many critics to be the best and most realistic films about the ninja, the Shinobi no Mono saga spans the turbulent years of 1573-1615 and tells the story of the ninja who lurked behind the scenes while warlords strived for power. In one of his most famous performances, the iconic Raizo ICHIKAWA portrays two famous ninja (ISHIKAWA Goemon and KIRIGAKURE Saizo), each one with his own agenda, each one with a dark past and no certain future.

“Considered by many Japanese film aficionados to be the first true ninja film, Satsuo Yamamoto’s 1962 black-and-white Shinobi No Mono is quite different from the cheesy 1980 martial arts quickies that brought the ninja figure into American culture. Recommended” – Video Librarian

371 minutes on 4 discs / Japanese w/English sub-titles

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Otaku No Video

Eleven Samurai

Eleven Samurai 737187016295Classic Japanese cinema led to the development of many of today’s contemporary action films. Kudo Eichii’s Eleven Samurai (1967) is a perfect example of the genre.

In one of the greatest films to come from Japan, the lord of the Oshi fief is killed by his trespassing neighbor, the cruel and despotic Nariatsu, son of the former Shogun. After a biased investigation, the Oshi clan is blamed for what happened and sentenced to be disbanded. Eleven of the best samurai of the clan refuse the sentence and are willing to give their lives for justice.

Noted director Kudo Eiichi reached the zenith of his career with this exciting film about the turbulent days of the Oshi clan! Featuring an all-star cast in one of the most memorable motion pictures from the Toei studio.

The huge cast includes: Isao Natsuyagi, Kôji Nanbara, Kei Satô, Yoshirô Aoki

“The black & white print is gorgeous and crisp and, as always, their program notes help explain the intricacies of feudal Japan well. ELEVEN SAMURAI is a nice addition to your samurai collection. Not as blood-thirsty as some epics, the film strikes a better balance between the cerebral and visceral than can be found in other films.” – Shocking Images

“…a perfect mixture of visceral action and character drama and well worth revisiting in years to come. Highly Recommended” – DVD Talk

100 minutes / B&W

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Sleepy Eyes Of Death

sleepy-eyes-collectionSleepy Eyes of Death is one of the longest-running (12 films) and best-loved samurai series of all time. The series of productions began in 1963 with the last of the installments produced in 1969.

The Soundview collection offers the entire series broken into 3 volumes (1, 2, 3) or as the complete 12 film collection. Each volume contains 4 films. Together they are presented in chronological order.

Nemuri Kyoshirō (眠 狂四郎) is a series of jidaigeki novels written by Renzaburo Shibata. The stories were originally serialized beginning in May 1956 in the Shūkan Shinchō.

The stories take place during Edo period under the Tokugawa shogunate and the rules of Tokugawa Ienari and his successor Tokugawa Ieyoshi and center on the title character, a sleepy-eyed rōnin or outlaw swordsman who is the son of a Japanese mother (the daughter of a daimyo, who commits jigaki [see “Female Ritual Suicide” in Seppuku] some time after Kyoshiro’s birth) and a foreign father, and who was conceived during a Black Mass (and as a result has a fierce hatred for what he considers the hypocrisy of Christianity).

Raizo Ichikawa (who sadly died at the age of 37) masterfully portrays Nemuri Kyoshiro, “the son of the Black Mass,” a half-breed warrior in search of a perfect death, driven by his disdain for Christianity and for the society in which he lives. Like all of Samurai Cinema’s releases, Sleepy Eyes of Death is uncut, unedited, and presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio.

“Ichikawa Raizo brings such a bizarre and unlikely effeminate charisma to his misogynistic ronin that the films are always interesting and this set comes highly recommended” — DVD Talk

“Sleepy Eyes of Death, where have you been hiding all my samurai loving life?” — EuroCultAV

“As with their other films, AnimEigo has subtitles that explain briefly some of the historical or cultural references spoken of by the characters, with more extensive notes as part of the supplements” — Coffee, Coffee…

“The Sleepy Eyes of Death film series is legendary, albeit hard to locate.” — Cinegeek

“Raizo Ichikawa is a terrific lead whose introduction to the Sleepy Eyes of Death is a portent of the great things this franchise has to come” — FilmSmash

“Kyoshiro breaks all the conventions of traditional cinematic samurai and does so in a way that will have you clamoring for the next four films in the series.” — Film Fanaddict

998 minutes (complete collection). Individual run times of the volumes are listed below).

Japanese with English sub-titles

The individual films contained within the series are:

  1. Sleepy Eyes of Death 1: The Chinese Jade (1963)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 1: Sappocho (Enter Kyoshiro Nemuri, the Swordsman)
  2. Sleepy Eyes of Death 2: Sword of Adventure (1964)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 2: Shōbu (Adventure of Kyoshiro Nemuri)
  3. Sleepy Eyes of Death 3: Full Circle Killing (1964)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 3: Engetsugiri (Exploits of Kyoshiro Nemuri)
  4. Sleepy Eyes of Death 4: Sword of Seduction (1964)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 4: Joyoken (Kyoshiro Nemuri at Bay)
  5. Sleepy Eyes of Death 5: Sword of Fire (1965)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 5: Enjo-ken (The Swordman and the Pirate)
  6. Sleepy Eyes of Death 6: Sword of Satan (1965)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 6: Masho-ken (The Mysterious Sword of Kyoshiro)
  7. Sleepy Eyes of Death 7: The Mask of the Princess (1966)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 7: Tajo-ken (The Mask of the Princess)
  8. Sleepy Eyes of Death 8: Sword of Villainy (1966)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 8: Burai-ken (The Sword That Saved Edo)
  9. Sleepy Eyes of Death 9: A Trail of Traps (1967)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 9: Burai-Hikae masho no hada (The Trail of Traps)
  10. Sleepy Eyes of Death 10: Hell Is a Woman (1968)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 10: Onna jigoku (The Ronin Called Nemuri)
  11. Sleepy Eyes of Death 11: In the Spider’s Lair (1968)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 11: Hito hada kumo (The Human Tarantula)
  12. Sleepy Eyes of Death 12: Castle Menagerie (1969)
    • Nemuri Kyōshirō 12: Akujo-gari (Castle Menagerie)

HOW TO ORDER:

Public Performance and Digital Site Licenses are available through Soundview Media Partners. To inquire or to place an order, write to info@soundviewmediapartners.com or simply choose from the options below:

Sleepy Eyes of Death Volume 1 (4 discs / 4 films / 338 minutes)


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Sleepy Eyes of Death Volume 2 (4 discs / 4 films / 331 minutes)


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Sleepy Eyes of Death Volume 3 (4 discs / 4 films / 329 minutes) 


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Sleepy Eyes of Death: The Complete 12 Film Collection (3 volumes of 4 discs/films each / 998 minutes complete)


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WATCH THE TRAILER FROM THE FIRST FILM