DIRECTOR:                     GORDON HESSLER
COUNTRY:                     JAPAN/USA 1992
ACTORS:                        David Essex, Sho Kosugi, Christopher Lee, Toshiro Miffune

It isn't often that we see many collaborations with Hollywood. This time, with Japanese money another film on the honor of the samurai warrior, and their way of life, during a time, when changes had to be made.

The Japanese warlord has not lost his battles with the rival Shogun who wants his post, but he is rapidly losing men to the invaders guns. A stroke of luck allows him to buy time, and keep his enemies down for a longer period of time. It rains, and the guns that once only fired on a flame, are all of a sudden totally dead, and useless. The warlord wins this battle, but he knows he will lose others without the weapons of fire. Amidst the shuffle, and the treachery, he decides that his heir to the throne is the best candidate to  go to Spain to buy some guns. The heir is under constant attack, the enemies' one hope to end a family tree, and chance the start of another.

While this film doesn't have the emotional strength of an Akira Kurosawa film, it does have a little of a curious twist to history. It implicates that even the Japanese were involved in the history of the world in the 16th and 17th  centuries, in ways that our history books never indicated. It seems like there only existed Portuguese and Spaniards, and Britons around, then. Gee whiz, a few Japanese, too.

Basically the film shows that the world of a shogun, and the Japanese warlords are coming to an end. Their need for fire arms, is a small threat
to the Spaniards, but then, so are the volcanoes. The Japanese, after all, were too far away to invade Europe, or vice versa, though the Christian  church movement did far better than any conquistador.

Of interest in this film, is Christopher Lee in a bit of a listless role  (nothing like Scaramonga) and Toshiro Miffune, in a role which he looks bored doing for the umpteenth time. The youngsters carry the day, though. The young regent, and protector uncle, are strong enough in their martial arts abilities to keep many a dishonest Spaniard, and Moroccan scoundrel, at bay, and  eventually gain access to the guns they wish. The title is the definition of their voyage, and their ability to stand up for the honor and valor of an English sea captain who helped them, and a tribute to their courage, in a world where they were a definite minority.

It's good entertainment, not as intense as RAN, or the original TV series of James Clavell's SHOGUN, but it is rather nice, and enjoyable little stroll through a few ruins and old ships. David Essex, as the Spaniard bastard baron/lord with an ego the size of Spain at that time ( half the world ) is good, though one gets the feeling he is over playing the role.

Nice movie to see.





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