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Poster for Kenji Misumi’s Sword Trilogy: Kiru (1962) 4K Restoration
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Kenji Misumi’s Sword Trilogy: Kiru (1962) 4K Restoration

Dates with showtimes for Kenji Misumi's Sword Trilogy: Kiru (1962) 4K Restoration
  • Fri, Jul 26

Director: Kenji Misumi Run Time: 71 min. Rating: NR Release Year: 1962

Starring: Jun'ichirō Narita, Masayo Banri, Mayumi Nagisa, Raizō Ichikawa, Shigeru Amachi

Country: Japan
Language: Japanese

The initial installment of Kenji 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:

An epic chanbara (sword fighting film) in compact form, Kiru (1962) depicts the life of Shingo Takakura, a master samurai with a mysterious past and an unvanquishable combat technique. When his surrogate father is killed by a jealous rival, Shingo learns of his true origin as the abandoned offspring of a female assassin and her lover-turned-executioner. Shingo’s journey through the 19th Century Japanese countryside as a twice-orphaned wanderer ultimately lands him in the employ of an honorable shogunate with powerful enemies during a period of political upheaval.

As adapted from a Renzaburô Shibata novel by legendary screenwriter Kaneto Shindō, Kiru (1962) meditates on the profundity and fragility of father-son relationships, a theme of personal significance to director Kenji Misumi, whose relationship with his own father suffered from abandonment and rejection. Misumi’s subtle yet poignant touches result in a minor chanbara masterpiece in which a young man must find his calling, with and without the guidance of a sensei.

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 saluted as 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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