Gambler Tales of Hasshu: A Man’s Pledge (Japan, 1963)
This is one of the many films based on the legend of Chuji Kunisada, a wandering gambler and a defender of the weak in the Edo period. In other words, he was the Japanese Robin Hood. In this film Kunisada (Chiezo Kataoka) arrives to a small town terrorized by an evil gang. He insists that he is not Kunisada, as the word is Kunisada has been executed, but of course the audience know better. Sonny Chiba plays an unusual supporting role as a helpless young man unable to defend himself from the gangsters. He does, however, get to play taiko drums and dance with Junko Fuji (who makes her film debut here). Chiba’s father, an old judge who helps Kunisada, is played by Takashi Shimura (Seven Samurai). The film hardly anything exceptional, but it’s a pretty decent jidai geki / yakuza drama.
* Original title: Hasshu yukyoden – otoko no sakazuki (八州遊侠伝 男の盃)
* Director: Masahiro Makino
* Chiba’s role: Major supporting role
* Film availability: VoD (Japan) (No subtitles)