1968, Janus Films, 114 min, Japan, Dir: Kihachi Okamoto

In this pitch-black action comedy, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute. One, previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai. The other, a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters. But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa’s SANJURO, KILL! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established chanbara classics and seasoning them with a little Italian Western.

1967, Janus Films, 121 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

Toshiro Mifune stars as Isaburo Sasahara, an aging swordsman living a quiet life until his clan lord orders that his son marry the lord's mistress, who has recently displeased the ruler. Reluctantly, father and son take the woman in, and, to the family’s surprise, the young couple fall in love. But the lord soon reverses his decision and demands the mistress’s return. Against all expectations, Isaburo and his son refuse, risking the destruction of their entire family.

1958, Sony Repertory, 79 min, Japan, Dir: Ishiro Honda

A sexy, exotic dancer slinks across the stage, showered in flickering lights. A bebop combo wails, sax and drums riffing like Charlie Parker and Max Roach. Square-jawed gangsters with slick hair and flashy vines smoke, drink and watch, doted on by giggling bar hostesses. Just another night at Cabaret Homura, but the heat’s about to come down on these mobsters - that is, until an even more dangerous villain appears. Ishiro Honda’s genre-blending sci-fi thriller is a mix of detectives, hoods, radioactive goblins and atomic paranoia. Starring genre regulars Kenji Sahara as an idealistic scientist, Hisaya Ito as an evil drug lord and Yumi Shirakawa as a beleaguered cabaret beauty.

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