Thursday, February 08, 2007

Incident at Bloodpass

Yojimbo has a simple job. He is to go to the village of Ina and stay at an inn called "Kameya" for a few days, drink sake, amuse himself, and wait for a message with a Tenpo-sen coin stamp. There will be one character in the message. If the character is “mountain”, he’s to head immediately to Nakasendou and thence to the border of Suwa. But if the character is “three”, he needs to go to Sanshuu Pass and wait for something to happen. It’s up to him to determine if he needs to kill or not. Got it? Pretty simple. Let’s go!When it comes to drinking sake, nobody looks cooler than Toshiro Mifune. He's like Bogart with a glass of bourbon.The Waify Woman? That’s the always adorable Asaoka Ruriko. She’s a runaway wife – her husband beat her and tied her up. She was forced to leave him and tag along with Yojimbo.She followed him until they got to a tea house, then she stayed behind to work. A lot of stuff in the movie happens around this spot.The message with the Tenpo-sen coin stamp said "three" so it's off to the pass to see what happens.The Discredited Doctor.Here’s the pass.
Is it all coincidence or is it planned? It takes a lot of men to subdue Yojimbo. And even then, there’s no guarantee that he can be subdued.Hiroshi Inagaki….meet Sergio Leone. Leone….Inagaki.
Masaru Satô…meet Ennio Morricone.

You'll know what I mean by that when you watch Inagaki's direction and hear the soundtrack. Incident at Bloodpass is a good solid film, but if it wasn't, the style alone - the give and take found between westerns, samurai films, spaghetti westerns, more samurai films (with a pinch of Petrified Forest and Key Largo thrown in)- is enough to make Bloodpass worthwhile. It's not a big film or an action packed film, but it never loses interest, the cinematography is superb and, of course, Toshiro Mifune is, well, Toshiro Mifune. That's more than anyone can ask for.


Edward Copeland said...

I love Yojimbo.

Wagstaff said...

Incident at Bloodpass is a late, late phase movie in Inagaki's career. It's the equivalent of something like Rio Lobo in Howard Hawks' career.

Charlie Parsley said...

An intriguing summarization of this film, I am now pondering a monthlong samurai-cinema festival.