Abare Goemon / Rise Against the Sword!

Abare Goemon / Rise Against the Sword! (1966)

Nope not a samurai movie

Director: Inagaki Hiroshi
Writers: Ide Masato, Inagaki Hiroshi
Date: 1966

Genre: Jidaigeki
Description: Farmer uprising, samurai are assholes, one man leads a revolution

Cast: Mifune Toshiro, Otawa Nobuko, Sato Makoto, Ryo Tamura, Hoshi Yuriko, Nishimura Ko, Kato Daisuke, Hirata Akihiko

Crew of note:

Runtime: 101 mins
Color: Black and White
Trivia: Nope, Goemon is not a real person

summary
Goemon is the leader of the Shinobu clan (more like village), a village of farmers and peasants. They are at odds with the Asakura Clan of samurai, who impose heavy taxes and treat the villages like dirt. In response, all the local tribes have formed an alliance to defend themselves from the abusive samurai. The Asakura Clan, in an attempt to quell their rebellion and gain control of the entire region, tries to enlist the aid of the villages to defeat the neighboring Enjoji, who are also samurai that no one seems to like.

review
Despite the fact that I consider Inagaki incredibly inconsistent and his grand epics sometimes sappy or hollow, I still find myself quite drawn to watching his movies. This is an Inagaki film after all so you all know what to expect. At the very least there’ll be battles right?

Well, Abare Goemon gets it right. Which is funny, because while “Inagaki Hiroshi” and “samurai jidaigeki” usually go hand-in-hand, this one’s actually about farmers, and the samurai are the bad guys. Normal people rise up and wage war against an oppressive ruling war clan. Who doesn’t love an underdog story?

One of the main strong points of the film is Goemon himself. He’s a pretty wacky character. He’s rough, vulgar, violent, ill-tempered, ill-mannered, and insensitive. Yet he’s also intelligent, an great strategic and tactical mind, an inspiring leader, and a great comedian too. There are times when he’s obstinate and stubborn, but there are moments when he is understanding and humble, often making jokes at his own expense. He can be quite a brute, yes, and for much of the film he’s actually pretty hate-able especially with the way he treats his brothers. But he’s also a great hero, and this mixed bag of traits makes him very human, indeed, very likable at the close analysis.

Mifune in Abare Goemon

Wacky!

It is also interesting to see the similarities between samurai culture and that of the Shinobu farmers. It’s obvious that there are more differences, but there are also some things that apparently never change. Discrimination, double standards, greed, oppression.. it seems that as long as people are different in some way, these things will persist. But the farmers are a kinder people compared to the samurai apparently, and unlike the rigid customs and traditions of bushido, change is possible in their culture. Actually, maybe that’s just Goemon who, for all his hatred of the samurai, is actually rather similar to them.

Except that he kicks their butts.

Mifune in Abare Goemon

Wacky! part 2

conclusion
I liked this a lot. Even though Inagaki uses the same tricks he’d been using decades, for some reason it just worked a whole lot better in the context of farmers. With a hero like Goemon, who is, by far, one of Inagaki’s most interesting and memorable characters, it is impossible not to rally to the side of the farmers and cheer for the ruin of the Asakura clan. Funny, action packed and with a great Mifune performance, this film has all the best elements of Inagaki’s war epics and few of the shortcomings.

things to take note of
Goemon’s conflicts and contradictions
The double standards
Differences and similarities between militant famers and samurai

best moment
Mifune raids a castle, and looks like a character from Dynasty Warriors / Samurai Warriors (the games) while doing so.

Mifune in Abare Goemon

Reminds me of Ma Chao from Dynasty Warriors actually

why you should watch this
Mifune’s Goemon is a pretty interesting character
Great battle sequences as usual
Farmers vs Samurai

rating: 8.3

scorecard
Plot: B
Cast: B
Cinematography: B
Music: B
Entertainment: A

similar movies, maybe:
Other Inagaki epics, I guess!

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