Release Date: September 12th, 2009 (Japan)
Running Time: 131 mins.
Director: Hiroyuki Nakano
Writer: Morichi Ichikawa (Screenplay), Rynosuke Akutagawa (Original Story “Yabu no Naka”)
Starring: Shun Oguri, Kei Tanaka, Yuki Shibamoto, Hirotaro Honda, Kyosuke Yabe, Gou Ayano,
A case of “the concept is far more interesting than the execution”. Based on the story “Yabu no Naka” by Ryonusuke Akutagawa (best known for the tale “Rashomon“) , the film expands a short story with plenty of twists and turns but the execution made the film hard work despite the beautiful visuals.
Taking place in feudal Japan under the control of the Shogun, the story focuses on four characters: the brothers of the Hatakeyama clan, Naomitsu (Shun Oguri) and Nobutsuna (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi), pretty girl Ako (Yuki Shikamoto) and a young scoundrel named Sakuramaru (Kei Tanaka) who Naomitsu takes into the family after a fateful encounter. Nobotsuna is destined to become a retainer to the Shogun, whilst Naomitsu will get Ako who is daughter of a Great Councillor who has gold bullion. All the while, Sakuramaru plots to usurp the position of the brothers and become retainer to the Shogun (an ambition the Shogun nurtures), by turning the brothers against each other. In order to protect Ako, Naomitsu flees to the mountains with her but encounters the legendary bandit Tajomaru. After a fight with Tajomaru, Naomitsu loses the girl, gains the title Tajomaru and falls in with a bunch of bandits.