Zegen

1987

Comedy

96
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 250

Synopsis


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December 12, 2020

Cast

720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
1.12 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
124 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.07 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
124 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bowie718 10 / 10 / 10

The Japanese Don Quixote

Imamura Shohei is not, perhaps, if one has seen films like Vengeance Is Mine, Intentions Of Murder, Insect Woman or Karayuki-San, the first choice one might imagine to have made such a richly comedic masterpiece of Japanese (hyper-)nationalist satire as this. Yet, the above films are not only helpful, but darn near essential viewing in order to grasp the full flavour of what Imamura has made out of his (and Ogata's) Quixote figure, the Holy Fool who is so blindly faithful to his nation and his 'great cause', and who commits deeds for them that should, if properly viewed, elicit all of profound horror, chaotic laughter and even tearful sympathetic empathy. For if one is unaware of the bitter truths of the Japanese woman of the Meiji era unwittingly sold into prostitution by their families, as documented in Karayuki-San, then an entire layer of the film is lost in the idea of a fictional man who could have, in Imamura's vision, founded such a system in the course of no less than a dream of the great glory of his country. Yet, this is not to say that the film cannot be enjoyed without such a background. The satire is sharp, yet the comedy itself is broad and the arc of Ogata's Muraoka is one of the most complete and all-encompassingly humanist character portrayals in all Japanese film. Imamura is used to portraying men as scoundrels, as victimisers, murderers, petty thieves and calculating demons; Muraoka is all of these things and yet none of them. He cannot be defined by any single characteristic any more than any non-fictional being could; yet, he can stand alone or for the entirety of Japanese culture, as well as for any other great figure in Imamura's work (and, dare I say it, either male or female). The characters with whom he interacts, too, are at turns majestic and base, glorious and vainglorious, realistic and archetypal, and likewise acted just as well, from the indelible figure of Muraoka's Dulcinea, Shiho (a name that seems to bear a profound resemblance to Imamura's own), a part just as well-portrayed as Ogata's, to every third-rate would-be pimp and whore they come in contact (and, my heavens, there are a lot of them!) over the span of some forty-odd (very odd, indeed) years in the brothels, mansions, ships and huts of the film. Whoever you are reading this, you are doing yourself a disservice in not seeing this film. This is, I have no doubt, one of the as-yet-undiscovered-masterpieces of world cinema, a testament to the ability of film to provide insights which no other media can provide as succinctly and as tellingly as a pristine performance within a perfect story told by an incomparable storyteller. In the twenty years since Zegen, I cannot think of a film so passionately yet simply told, so worthy of praise. It is an echo of Cervantes and of Welles, the author and greatest interpreted of the Don Quixote tale, and deserving of rank amongst them as great filmic literature. —Marc-David Jacobs

Reviewed by random_avenger 9 / 10 / 10

Zegen

Japanese director Shôhei Imamura may be best known for his cold and serious films, but over the course of his career he also tackled comedy, albeit in a very dark manner. One of his later films, Zegen tells the reality-based story of Iheiji Muraoka (Ken Ogata), a poor Japanese man who immigrates to Hong Kong at the turn of the 20th century to seek work in order to slowly regain the past glory of his family. Making a living as a barber at first, Muraoka is soon recruited to work as a spy against the Russians and develops an extremely strong sense of patriotism after to the example of his commander, Captain Uehara (Hiroyuki Konishi). After semi-accidentally becoming a human trafficker, he gets the idea of setting up brothels for the benefit of the Emperor, eventually expanding his businesses across South-East Asia. The changing political climate keeps causing troubles for his ventures, however. Imamura tells the tale of the "Japanese Dream" of booming pre-war economics through exaggeration and satire: Muraoka's obsessive attempts of honouring his country are seen as fussy and comical and the constant presence of giggling prostitutes also strengthens the sense of laughableness that surrounds Imamura's trusted actor Ken Ogata in the lead role. On the other hand, the relationship of Iheiji's sensible lover Shiho (Mitsuko Baisho), also a prostitute, and a rivaling pimp Wang (Chun Hsiung Ko) brings a feel of sadness in the story, as does the general idea of girls leaving their homes or being kidnapped to work as prostitutes overseas, even if the characters are too keen on their daily bumblings to ever realize it. The satirical aspects become perhaps the most obvious during the final 15 minutes or so, when Muraoka has finally lost his grip on reality in the pressures of honour. At this point, he has moved from laughable to pathetic – Imamura's commentary on economy and patriotism replacing common sense is not left unclear. True to his style, Imamura doesn't do much to cover up the omnipresent sexuality and casual nudity that defines the lives of the women in the brothels. The yellowish hues of many interior scenes create a mood of crampedness that is contrasted by beautiful outdoor shots of things like blizzards, sunsets or fog during Muraoka's trips outside his brothels. Besides the well-thought visuals, the music by Shinichirô Ikebe fits in the mood too, although used rather sparingly. Even though the loud style of acting takes some time to get used to and the story feels a tad too long at over two hours, in the end I think the colourful performances and the period piece atmosphere are worth seeing for friends of Japanese cinema. Since the theme of uncontrollable urge for entrepreneurship is still very relevant too, Zegen can be recommended to those interested in Imamura's development as a director, even though personally I still prefer the more intimate Unholy Desire (1964), his cruel but excellent examination of emotional abuse in relationships.

Reviewed by Carl-17 9 / 10 / 10

Black comedy/satire about Japan and cultural imperialism.

This movie is black satire of Japanese imperial ambitions in the 20th century. In Meiji era Japan (1868-1910), the Japanese state sought to establish itself as an empire as a way to both catch up to and remain free from the West. These activities also lay the foundation for the disasters to come mid-century. This movie satirizes those efforts from a mid-1980s perspective, giving it an obvious subtext of being a commentary on the efforts of late 20th century Japanese businessmen abroad as well. The "hero" is a businessman who, realizing that the Japanese armed forces will likely soon be advancing across Asia, decides that they will require brothels wherever they go as well and so sets up shop in Southeast Asia. A very black comedy from one of Japan's finest film satirists (cf. "Pigs and Battleships," "The Pornographers") best known abroad ca. 1999 for "The Eel" and "Black Rain" (the film based on the novel about Hiroshima, not the Michael Douglas flick).

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