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Poster for Kenji Misumi’s Sword Trilogy: Kenki (1965) 4K Restoration
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Kenji Misumi’s Sword Trilogy: Kenki (1965) 4K Restoration

Dates with showtimes for Kenji Misumi's Sword Trilogy: Kenki (1965) 4K Restoration
  • Sun, Jul 28

Director: Kenji Misumi Run Time: 83 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 1965

Starring: Gorō Mutsumi, Kei Satō, Michiko Sugata, Raizō Ichikawa, Ryūtarō Gomi

Country: Japan
Language: Japanese

The final installment of Kanji Misumi’s brilliant Sword Trilogy. See the 4K Restorations of all three films—Kiru (1962)Ken (1964), and Kenki (1965)—one weekend only at the Film Center.

About the film:

The final installment of Kenji Misumi’s “Sword Trilogy” and, as adapted from another Renzaburô Shibata novel, a brazenly unique hybrid of the samurai, supernatural, and romance genres.

Rumored to be the product of a union between a woman and a dog, humble gardener Hanpei serves as a low-ranking vassal in the castle of a clan lord slowly succumbing to insanity. While at first ridiculed for his strange origins and reserved nature, Hanpei eventually earns respect for his preternatural running abilities and the vicious iai sword-drawing technique he learns from a mysterious ronin. When the clan is thrown into intensifying disarray and dissension, Hanpei must sacrifice his gentle ways–and his love for the beautiful Saki–in order to fend for himself. Once more exploring the symbolic possibilities of the chanbara, Misumi plumbs the spiritual duality of the peaceful man forced into violence.

About the filmmaker:

A prolific director of Japanese period films (jidai-geki), Kenji Misumi was a genre filmmaker who stamped his own style and personality on all of his commercial material. He has been salutedas an “unconscious auteur,” and Hiroaki Yoshida’s book on the Misumi’s career bears the subtitle “Secret Innovation,” highlighting his quiet subversion of genre conventions.

With a recommendation from Kan Kikuchi, the wartime president of Daiei Motion Picture Company, Misumi entered the film industry through an apprenticeship at the Japanese film production company Nikkatsu. With the outbreak of WWII, however, Misumi was enlisted and ended up a Soviet prisoner in Siberia. He did not return to Japan until 1948, when he resumed his filmmaking career as assistant director to filmmakers like Kozaburo Yoshimura, Daisuke Ito, and Teinosuke Kinugasa.

Misumi made some of his most internationally famous films relatively late in his career—notably, the flamboyantly violent Lone Wolf and Cub series based on the manga by Kazuo Koike. Misumi directed dozens of films throughout his career, but his most celebrated films belong to his Sword Trilogy. The trilogy, comprised of the films Kiru (1962)Ken (1964), and Kenki (1965), brought a thrilling vitality to the familiar genre of Japanese Samurai films.

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