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Japan, France, United Kingdom · 1999
1h 40m
Director Nagisa Ōshima
Starring Takeshi Kitano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Tadanobu Asano, Yôichi Sai
Genre Drama, History, Thriller

Set during Japan's Shogun era, "Taboo" centers around a training compound for the Shinsen-gumi, a Shogunate militia notorious for both their ruthless violence and homosexuality. When the young, strikingly handsome Kano Sozaburo joins this elite samurai unit, his presence unleashes tensions among his fellow swordsmen—including his superior Hijikata Toshizo—as they find themselves competing for his affections.

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Christian Science Monitor by David Sterritt

The movie's most striking assets are its lyrical visual style, which forms a silky counterpoint to the plot's turbulent emotions, and Beat Takeshi's smooth and expressive performance as a senior warrior.


L.A. Weekly by F. X. Feeney

Above all, Oshima has fashioned a tale of men among men that feels familiar at first, then moves boldly into more enigmatic terrain.


Los Angeles Times by Kevin Thomas

It takes a director with exceptional talent, skill and experience to explore ambiguity in all aspects of human nature and behavior, and Oshima has created a film of resilient, downright tensile strength that ends on a satisfyingly ironic note.


Boston Globe by Loren King

The intriguing subject, unfortunately, collapses under too many talky scenes of the samurai discussing their feelings and gossiping about who loves whom.


Philadelphia Inquirer by Steven Rea

Ripe with homoeroticism, but also with what the director — who made the film after recovering from a stroke a few years back — calls "the scent of murder."

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