Among film-geek circles, the word “remake” often has the same effect as publicly sharing intimate details of somebody’s mother’s genitalia. But if there’s one (remake, that is, not set of genitals) that I’ve been looking forward to, it’s the Japanese language remake of Clint Eastwood’s classic Oscar winning western, Unforgiven. With that film (and Clint Eastwood’s entire career really) owing so much to classic Japanese samurai films like Yojimbo, it seems that a Japanese samurai remake of arguably Eastwood’s best Western – starring none other than film veteran Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception) – would be eerily fitting.
And now we have the first sweeping trailer for Yurusarezaru mono.
Set in Hokkaido around 1880, the start of the Meiji period following the collapse of the Edo shogunate, at a time when the Japanese government is attempting to open the land (then named Ezo) populated by the indigenous Ainu people.
In the shogunate’s waning days, Jubei Kamata (Watanabe), a former swordsman of the shogunate, slaughters countless rebels under orders, earning a fearsome reputation in Kyoto. Following the government’s collapse, he takes part in a succession of bloody battles culminating in the decisive battle at Goryokaku, then vanishes without a trace, eluding the determined efforts of the new government to capture him.
More than a decade later, Jubei lives on in desolate isolation as a frugal rancher with an Ainu woman as his wife and their children. His wife — who alone transformed a man whose only reason for existence was to kill — dies, leaving him to guard over her grave with their children in sparse austerity.
However, the man who vowed never to take sword again finds himself driven by poverty to once again join battle as a bounty hunter. Together with a former comrade, he faces those convinced in their own justice. Another cycle of violence starts anew in another new era.
Despite decades of watching anime, my Japanese is still very rusty so clearly I can’t quite follow the dialogue in that trailer, but what I can see is that the film appears to be beautifully lensed, and cinematic elder statesmen Watanabe looks to be turning in another fine performance.
The film is slated for release in Japan on September 13, 2013, but there’s no wider international release date set yet.
Last Updated: July 16, 2013