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Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963)

Eiji Funakoshi , Jun Hamamura , Kon Ichikawa  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Eiji Funakoshi, Jun Hamamura, Kazuo Hasegawa, Raizo Ichikawa, Shintaro Katsu
  • Directors: Kon Ichikawa
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Animeigo
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001C0I608
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,095 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

While performing in a touring kabuki troop, leading female impersonator Yukinojo comes across the three men who drove his parents to suicide twenty years earlier, and plans his revenge on them.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kabuki Theatre on a Shakespearean Scale December 9, 2008
Verified Purchase
This is the ultimate Japanese that was intended to be enjoyed in the unique culture for which it was made. Ostensibly the story is about a Kabuki actor (who plays female roles) who notices his enemies in his audience. Enraged, he contrives a complicated revenge against those who ruined his family decades before. But the manner in which the film is performed is a huge Kabuki play - part stage and part natural world.

On many levels this is an exceptionally stunning color that influenced even recent films such as "Memoirs of a Geisha." Sometimes, the director focuses his scene with a background of just one intense color - perhaps scarlet red or sky blue or sun yellow. In other frames, the emphasis is on the glorious fabrics worn by the Japanese characters in this period drama of the first decades of the 1800's. The film switches from elaborate stage to the ordinary world effortlessly.

Nevertheless, one should "never" underestimate the humanism of director Kon Ichikawa, a man who is unafraid to challenge traditional Japanese values. For example,a great many films of Japan deal with the duty of an individual to right an injustice against his family, his lover, or his clan. This is understood as the bushido way. But this director is unafraid to rethink these values. In his celebrated movie "The Burmese Harp", Ichikawa adopts the point of view that the Japanese were correct to surrender in 1945 rather than waste - for no good reason - the lives of exhausted Japanese soldiers who had no chance to win the war, let alone a single battle.

In this film, the director ends the film on an ambiguous note - that the revenge was probably wrong ...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seduction, revenge and art February 18, 2009
The theatricality of Kabuki is always prevalent in Japanese film. Sometimes it is overt, as in the Kabuki-play adaptation Ashura. Sometimes it isn't so obvious, as in the Kabuki-trained movements of Inou Rie as Sadako in Ring. But it is always there.

"Revenge of a Kabuki Actor" (Original title "Yukinojo Henge" or "Yukinojo's Transformation") clearly draws from this traditional Japanese theater explicitly. Not only does the story revolve around a Kabuki actor, an onnagata meaning a male who plays female roles, but also the imagery and style are also heavily Kabuki-influence. Some might still have a hard time with the subject matter. Hasegawa was much younger when he originated the role, and it might be difficult to see why a young and beautiful girl would fall for a 55-year old "drag queen", but that is historically accurate. The onnagata, thought to be the perfect blend of male and female, were often the target of young women's affection.

On top of that, "Revenge of a Kabuki Actor" is actually a re-make of an older 1935 film. This version was created as a celebration of the 300th movie of legendary actor Hasegawa Kazuo. Hasegawa, recipient of the Shiju-hosho, or "Medal of Honor with the Purple Ribbon" that is the highest honor the Japanese government can bestow upon one of its citizens, began as a Kabuki actor. Transferring to films, he played the dual-roles of Yukinojo and the bandit Yamitaro in the original "Yukinojo Henge", which proved popular enough to spawn several sequels. As a tribute to him, Ichikawa directed Hasegawa in this re-make of one of his most famous films.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually amazing !!!!!!!! September 23, 2008
By R. Mark
I saw this film in the early 90's on VHS and have been waiting for a very long time for it to be released on DVD. Visually, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Every shot is like a beautiful painting with colors so intense that you won't believe your eyes. Even though the film was made in 1963, it is surprising how today's films with all their computer generated bells and whistles, cannot match this film's cinematographic brilliance.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A man playing a beautiful woman playing a love scene with a beautiful woman may seem confusing. It may seem odder when the man playing the beautiful woman is also the actor playing a resourceful, ironic chief of bandits who shares several scenes with himself playing the beautiful woman. It may seem odder still that the actor was 55 years old, one of Japan's acting treasures, and carries off both roles with complete aplomb. And he should. Kazuo Hasegawa played the same roles in the first filming of Yukinojo Henge 28 years earlier.

Stay with this 1963 movie by Kon Ichikawa and you'll find yourself immersed in a story of revenge, humor and clever style that is not only odd but engrossing and amusing. The story is set in 1830's Edo in the world of Kabuki where highly trained male actors, onnagata, play women's roles. By law they must maintain the pretense in manner and dress in private life as well as in public. Yukinojo Nakamura (Kazuo Hasegawa) is a famous onnagata. During a performance he spots the businessmen who, 20 years earlier in Nagasaki, drove his parents to suicide. He was 11 then. Revenge has been his goal ever since. One of the men has a beautiful young daughter, Namiji, who falls madly in love with Yukinojo, as women often did with onnagata. She is pledged to the shogun, and she will be the lever for Yukinojo's revenge. But then there is Ohatsu, a beautiful pickpocket with a lovely face, an impertinent manner and a vocabulary that can make men blush. She falls in love with Yukinojo, too. And there is her boss, the master thief Yamitaro (also played by Kazuo Hasegawa). Yukinojo is calm, sad and remorseless, with a husky falsetto voice and walking with tiny steps. Yamitaro is athletic, confident and even impish, with a growl of a voice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Kabuki actor
I enjoyed this film a lot. It took me back to the days when you saw a lot of black and white films at the Japanese temple every weekend. Read more
Published 13 months ago by balam
5.0 out of 5 stars Kabuki is good
This a good drama with a old school japanese feel no high flying wire action or Kaiju but it's still good and being subtitled you won't get a head ache from lip reading
Published 13 months ago by Anonimus
3.0 out of 5 stars An Actor's Revenge (1963)
Before you go through the rest of the review, I must first qualify this one by saying I only watched 15 minutes. Read more
Published 20 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Halfway from Kurosawa to Stephen Chow !
If the title of this review doesn't give you a clue of what to expect in this film, I can almost guarantee you won't like it. Read more
Published on March 4, 2011 by Giordano Bruno
5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of a Kabuki Actor
The Klingons say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Well, twenty years is a long time to wait for that dish, but that is the premise behind Kon Ichikawa's Revenge of a... Read more
Published on August 6, 2010 by Julie L. Hayes
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Japanese movies
This is one of the best Japanese old timers. Has depth (soul) to it and can be compared to "Suna no Onna" ("Woman in the Dunes"). Read more
Published on March 16, 2010 by Wet Mars
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series about a ronin...........
Watched this series as a child. Raizo Ichikawa is a comsumate actor. So very sorry that he passed away at the young age of 37. He was larger than life. Read more
Published on July 4, 2009 by Patti Kish
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great DVD transfer
Finally this film is available in DVD for us region 1 folks. Prior to Animeigo's DVD, one had to watch a rough transfer on VHS. Read more
Published on May 29, 2009 by J. Holt
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Acting
I was completely absorbed by this film. The acting, particularly by the main character, was extraordinary. A fascinating glimpse into another culture, another time.
Published on March 22, 2009 by NoseInBook
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