Red Lion

1969

Action / Comedy

56
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 79%
IMDb Rating 7 10 610

Synopsis


Downloaded times
December 27, 2020

Cast

Toshirô Mifune as Tsuruchiyo Niiro
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.04 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
115 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.94 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
115 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 7 / 10 / 10

To appreciate this film, it really does help to have an understanding of the history of the time in which this film is set...

For non-Japanese audiences, this is not an easy film to understand as it takes a decent knowledge of their history to understand what's happening. I will try to sum up the context for when the film begins. Although Japan was technically ruled by the Emperor, the office had long become a figurehead. So, while people loved and respected their emperors, the real running of the country was left to mob bosses, of sorts. And in the process, they exploited the people and kept the country in a feudal state. This is referred to as the Tokugawa Shogunate, as these shogun (bosses, really) ruled like emperors and the emperor lived in seclusion--in luxury but also like a virtual prisoner. All this changed in the late 1850s when the US sent a fleet to ships to Japan to forcibly create relations with the west. You see, up until then, the Shogunate had banned virtually all contact with the outside world for two hundred years. Now, against their will, they were essentially forced to welcome the American forces...or else. The Shogunate hated this but the Emperor seized this as an opportunity to finally assert itself and take power. So, against the wishes of the various clans that ran the country, the Emperor negotiated to open up his country as well as asset control. While not an overnight change, through a series of wars and HUGE social upheaval, the country shifted to an Imperial rule--known as the Meiji period. "Red Lion" is set about circa 1860 and begins with a new Imperial army being created to solidify power. The people are in favor of this--partly because the emperor always was the object of veneration and partly because the Shogunate had often times exploited the people for selfish reasons. And, while there was much fighting between various clans during this time, the Emperor's forces were essentially left untouched, as the Shogunate could not defy their god-like but until recently impotent leader. In this new army is a loud and rather atypical guy (Toshirô Mifune). He is NOT one of the leaders but seems to be very willing to speak his mind to his superiors--a very non-Japanese sort of way of acting. And, when the army approaches his old home town, this brash guy suggests to the leader that Mifune be allowed to enter the place in the guise as the commander of the Imperial forces (by wearing the red headdress of the leader), as he knows the people and will get their support much quicker than the real guy. Plus, they can use their forces to enter and convert other nearby towns to their cause. While the plan makes some sense, you soon see that Mifune is, to put it bluntly, a bit inept. Can this bozo manage to complete his mission successfully--especially when the local bosses aren't about to just give up the power they've held for so long?! Well, you do have to admire the film for covering this time period in an unusual way. While I've seen plenty of Japanese films set during this struggle, almost all the others were heroic or tragic in style. This one is almost a comedy...blended with some small battle scenes. The hero, if you want to call him that, is brash but stutters and hardly instills confidence--hardly a role you might expect for Mifune, but a good one. While I did enjoy this film, it has two basic problems. The first I have already mentioned--it's not a great film if you can't follow the plot because you don't know the history. Second, it seemed overlong--as after a while it seemed to lose some of its momentum. But, it's still essentially a good story and well worth seeing. Plus, the ending provides lots of exciting bloody action...if you're into that sort of thing. By the way, the phrase the peasants chant at the end ""Ee ja nai ka"" was also the title of a movie about this time period and its impact on the poor. Roughly translated, it means "why not?".

Reviewed by massaster760 10 / 10 / 10

A masterpiece of 60's Japanese cinema

In the 1860's Japan was facing great political change. The 300 year rule of the Shogunate was changing hands for the new Imperial Japan. A time of revolution and war. This is the setting of Red Lion, a film which equally balances drama, slapstick humor, romance, and a decent amount of bloody samurai action. Mifune Toshiro plays Gonzo, a former peasant and current member of the Imperial Restoration Force, who one day convinces his commanding officer to borrow his red lion wig so he can ride to his hometown village to prepare the residents for the coming of the new Imperialism. Once there he finds things are not as easy as they seemed. In order to collect land taxes owed to the Shounate, the deputy official has began taking wives and children as forms of payment. On top of that, there's an underground still fiercely devoted to the Shogunate rule. Gonzo becomes ensnared in the treachery between multiple groups as well as the Imperial army, who rule may be just as oppressive as the Shogun's. Mifune is great (as always) as the stuttering, clumsy Gonzo. His role in Red Lion serves as a great demonstration of his range as an actor. In past films, the majority of Mifune's roles were usually similar. He played the nameless way-ward drifter, serious and also a major bad-ass. While he's still as bad as ever, in Red Lion we get to see the more comedic range of his acting... which he pulls of perfectly. His part is the heart and soul of Red Lion. Although, the film does feature great ensemble acting. In particular, Etsushi Takahashi is great as the cryptically evil Hanzo (a role which traditionally would be more suited for Mifune) and Minori Terada is perfect as the innocent but jaded Sanji. One of the film's strong points is that it's not predictable. I was surprised by some of the twists in the plot. After watching so many samurai films the formula tends to get repetitive. Red Lion is not a film that follows suit; friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and allegiance's are questioned, all in ways that are a surprise to the viewer and which resolve in a way that is quite unexpected but pleasing. The comedic aspect of the film works quite well (in most cases) and I found myself continually smiling and occasionally laughing. Some viewers may not find Red Lion funny because the humor is distinctly Japanese. But those familiar with Japanese cinema-in particular Toshiro-will find Mifune's performance as Gonzo hysterical. Red Lion's score, direction, and cinematography are typical of the genre. Beautifully filmed landscapes, intricately detailed sets and costumes, and of course a loud stirring score. Okamot Kihachi's direction is spot on, and coexists perfectly with the performances. There really aren't any major faults with this film, and it's an all around good time. Although, Red Lion is one of Okamoto Kihachi's masterpieces it has it's share of small faults. Some of the humor seems a bit forced and a few of the dramatic scenes are a bit overdone, though most of it works very well. That being said the last thirty minutes of this film are incredible, and redeem any minor faults of the first hour and a half. Bottom Line- Mifune and Okamoto team up for an incredibly fun two hours. Red Lion a masterpiece of 60's Japanese cinema and is simultaneously funny, sad, unpredictable, and altogether a damn good time.

Reviewed by zetes 10 / 10 / 10

Amazing! One of the best samurai films available in America!

Check out the previous comment for more complete information on the historical aspects of Red Lion - he obviously knows a lot about it, and I found it very useful to read that right after I finished watching the film. All I can say for sure about this film, though, is that I loved it. It's enormously entertaining! First off, it's hilarious. One doesn't generally think of Toshiro Mifune as a comic actor (although there are comic elements in his characters in Rashomon and The Seven Samurai), but he's quite funny here. It's not a humor that many Americans could appreciate, though. It's very Japanese. If you're a fan of anime or video games, the humor will be recognizable. Second, it's exciting. I love Okamoto's Sword of Doom, and the action sequences in Red Lion are equal. It's actually a little more action-oriented than that film, which is more suspense-oriented. And, third, it's dramatically effective. Gonzo (Toshiro Mifune) starts off the film as a comic character, but by the end he grows into a hero of great stature. The color cinematography of Red Lion is also very beautiful. 10/10.

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