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Japan, United States · 1980
Rated PG · 3h 0m
Director Akira Kurosawa
Starring Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Jinpachi Nezu, Takashi Shimura
Genre Action, Drama, History, War

Kurosawa's feudal epic presents the tale of a petty thief recruited to impersonate Shingen, an aging warlord, to avoid attacks by competing clans. When Shingen dies, his generals reluctantly agree to have the impostor take over as the ruler. He soon begins to appreciate life as Shingen, but his commitment is tested when he must lead his troops into battle.

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Time Out by

For all Kurosawa's splendidly colourful recreation of 16th century Japan, and though Nakadai's performance is impressive enough, it's all ultimately rather empty and tedious; it could easily have been cut by almost an hour, while the grating Morricone-like score only serves to underline the fact that the director fails to achieve the emotional force of his finest work.


Slant Magazine by Eric Henderson

The film vibrates with a profound respect for historical veracity, the busy intersection between political sociology and psychology, and grunting, portentous masculinity.


Empire by Ian Nathan

An often overlooked fine entry in the Kurasawa canon, this shows a good many western 'epics' how it's done.


The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

Though the story's Shakespearean underpinnings give Kagemusha the weight of classic tragedy–in this case, the tragedy of a man rendered helpless by larger historical forces–the film astonishes mostly as pure spectacle.

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