Gate of Hell (Jigokumon) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gate of Hell (Jigokumon) Reviews

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March 18, 2018
I'm not onside with either the critics or the audience consensus on this one. The colours and costumes are beautiful, and there is the occasional shot which is artistic. Otherwise, it's terribly over-acted with a boring, slow beginning and then an over-dramatic conclusion. One of the most poorly executed Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winners I've watched. I can't believe it won.
January 22, 2017
Different than most samurai movies of the era. While a good story, there seems a disconnect between the two halves of the movie
November 2, 2016
Sublime. Beautiful. Perfection. Like watching oil move on the canvas.
September 19, 2015
O que até começa por ser um filme de guerra, que exige enorme concentração para decorar os nomes e partes envolvidas, passa à condição de arrebatador drama de amores assim que encontra o seu foco. Com mais de 60 anos, "Gate of Hell" continua a ser absolutamente relevante como prova do cinema muito nobre e delicadamente vistoso vindo do Japão. Podia a sua história de obsessão facilmente cair no exagero, mas Teinosuke Kinusaga sabe muito bem como equilibrar os rasgos furiosos do seu principal protagonista com outros em que reina a tranquilidade da música koto ou dos palácios quase vazios. Há também para ver uma Machiko Kyo que deve ser das actrizes mais hipnóticas do seu tempo.
February 2, 2015
Gate of Hell is an early masterpiece of Japanese cinema. I'd imagine it's one of the first dark comedies to be shown in color, Gate of Hell's puts great use to the color to create a beautiful viewing experience. Among being an unpredictable, comedic, and grim, Gate of Hell clearly shows the influence it has had on later great Japanese directors like Akira Kurosawa.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2014
In "Gate of Hell," a rebellion has broken out in Japan. As all hell breaks loose, a desperate plan is hatched to save the royalty by distracting them with a decoy. Kesa(Machiko Kyo), a handmaiden volunteers for the suicide mission which the rebels fall for. Luckily for her, Morito(Kazuo Hasegawa) is on hand to rescue her before battling his own brother. After order is restored and the rebellion put down, Morito is granted a boon for his bravery and loyalty. He chooses Kesa's hand in marriage which is when things get very, very complicated.

Even as action packed as its first act is, "Gate of Hell" also finds the time to unload a lot of 12th century Japanese politics and history on the unsuspecting audience. That is all a little unnecessary, considering that at the heart of this historical drama is the intimate and timeless tragedy of three people and they are the only ones that matter. But the movie soon recovers itself very, very well on the way to its shattering climax. In general, this is also a movie about warriors who have trouble adjusting to peacetime, especially considering this was made not that long after the end of World War II.
August 5, 2014
Gate Of Hell is quite a film, to say the least. Sure, there's the fact that it was the first color Japanese film, but it's also a film where despite a deceptively simple premise, it holds a great deal more in intellectual value, and also having a lot to say about the nature of human beings when obsession and desires consumes every last facet of our lives, even if it threatens to destroy the object of desire.

During a traitorous rebellion, the royal family needs to be evacuated, so to fool the invaders, a woman named Kesa, volunteers to be the Ladyship's double, while being escorted by some samurai, including one named Moritoh.

The rebellion ends up being crushed, and Moritoh is considered to be a hero and he is offered anything he wants as a reward. He wants to marry Kesa, but this particular request cannot be honored, as she is already married to a man named Wataru. This infuriates Moritoh, and he refuses to take no for an answer and seeks endlessly to win her love while also deviously plotting to get Wataru out of the picture.

The story is familiar, and on the surface, is simple.. But, it's the way that the film presents it, and the way that is written and performed, that makes the story a great deal more than what it would seem at first thought. There are many themes to be processed: obsession, desire, greed, and other dark themes, but it is also surprising in themes like devotion, true love, sacrifice, and other themes. It covers a wide spectrum of human thoughts and emotions, both dark and malicious, but also how goodness and devotion to the one you love can stand in the face of terrifying evil that threatens to destroy everyone. The story is quite compelling, and also tragic and emotional.

The acting is superb, especially from Machiko Kyo as Lady Kesa and Kazuo Hasegawa as Moritoh. Machiko Kyo is a sympathetic and wonderful character, while Kazuo Hasegawa does an amazing job of playing the menacing Moritoh as his mental state slowly deteriorates when the object of his desire rejects him over and over again until there is nothing but the obsession as his goal in sight. These two are what made the film what it was in terms of storytelling, as they successfully balance between good and evil elements of human nature.

Gate Of Hell is a superb drama that definitely deserved the numerous awards that it won when it first released. This makes it ever more questionable as to why it took so damn long for it to get released on a home video format (So much so, that they had to restore all the colors and footage because the footage was so faded and old from not being used for so long). Whatever may be the reason for this, we finally get to see the masterpiece in all its glory. It's not just a beautiful color film, but it's also an exceptional drama and among the greatest Japanese films ever made. If you love a good drama, Gate Of Hell is something worth seeing.
½ July 27, 2014
Shot in a resplendent Eastmancolor, Gate of Hell, the first Japanese movie to be filmed in color, extracts poetry from the misery of man and the tragic destiny of tormented souls that recognize how oppressive feelings can be. You've rarely seen colors come alive in quite this way, very carefully matched against one another.
Every frame of every shot is simply a formidable Japanese print. It is pure beauty.
Its opening battle scenes partially shrouded behind billowing veils and banners, and the majestic flight of the troops from the burning imperial palace providing some of the most remarkable images.
Developed in slow pace, this movie is 53 years old, and it still sparkles Those were the days when doing the right thing was the expected norm. All those who transgress their loyalties, and are beaten or unmasked, are sent to hell through its gat
½ June 3, 2014
Beautiful color cinematography.
March 17, 2014
Powerful love story set in medieval japan. Great acting, costumes, sets, and haunting music. It comes together to tell the story of loyalty, love and honor. It was a groundbreaking film for the world.
February 23, 2014
A standard love-triangle story. But the use of color is remarkable and well ahead of its time.
½ February 10, 2014
Gate of Hell (1953)

The first colored Japanese movies that was ever shown in the U.S. This film got Best Costume Design in a color film at the Oscars and an honorary Best Foreign Language Film (they didn't yet have that category). Although it's a very beautiful, colorful film, it's far from my favorite Samurai film.

This story happens during the 1160 Meiji Rebellion. As rebels storm a Daimyo's residence, an effort is planned to cause a diversion. One of the Ladies in Waiting, Kesa (Machiko Kyo) volunteered to act as the Lord's wife so that the Lord and Ladies could make their escape. Her cart is guarded by samurai Morito Enda (Kazuo Hasegawa) who fights gallantly to protect her.

Morito is so disappointed that his brother is part of the rebels, he makes every effort to help Lord Kiyomori Itsukushima (Koreya Senda) back to power. As a reward, the Lord promises to grant Morito a wish. Morito wishes to wed the Lady Kesa. When Lord Itsukushima finds out the Kesa is married to another samurai, Wataru Watanabe (Isao Yamagata), he backs away from his promise, but Morito will not relent, and begins stalking poor Kesa.
February 2, 2014
another well crafted historical costume drama from japan
½ October 20, 2013
A simple love story with subtle message at the end, I don't understand what's the big fuzz about this Samurai drama.
October 1, 2013
Gate of Hell (AKA Jigokumon) is an effective drama set in twelfth-century Japan. When a young soldier falls in love with a woman, later finding out that she is married, his obsession and the lengths that he will go to to win her love lead to the ultimate tragedy. The film won Oscars for best foreign-language film and best costume design, both of which were richly-deserved. The film is a beautiful tapestry of work in both its look and design. The landscapes and the costumes are all remarkably rich with color and detail. The story itself and the dynamics of it still work, although I would argue that it doesn't really pick up steam until about halfway through. Not that any of it is boring, but the real thrust of the story isn't itself very obvious or concrete right away. Regardless, it's a beautiful film and one that I'm glad has been properly restored.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2013
A really solid flick with a surprise twist. A great highlight from Japan's golden era.
June 10, 2013
Gate of Hell is gloriously colorful and well shot. The films themes of love and trust in an honorable society are somewhat critiqued which makes for an interesting concept and ending.
June 4, 2013
A film that, for me, is all beautiful surface level but has no depth in its story. On the outset, the plot is interesting; a samurai falls for a married woman in feudal Japan and descends into psychopathy in his desire to have her. Director Teinosuke Kinugasa painted this film in gorgeous Eastman color, a result that has had critics rediscovering and labeling this as one of the prettiest looking films of the nineteen fifties, and I cannot deny that the film looks downright beautiful. There is a massive and thoughtful color palette on display here that makes even the dark nighttime scenes heavy with saturation. Unfortunately, the execution of the story is an exercise in tedium. It starts out committing what is, to me, one of the biggest sins in cinematic storytelling- it zips through history and drops name after name of characters that won't have much if anything to do with the small tale which is about to be told. After ten minutes of trying to keep straight many battles and family lines and samurais and royalties, we zoom into this small war waged on a happy marriage by this lonely and frustrated obsessive man. To be clear, it isn't this central plot I have a problem with; to me, the best films are made out of the most confined and simple story lines, much like this one. Why it needed to be buried under layers and layers of historical specifics, however, is beyond me. The actors are all pretty good, especially Kazuo Hasegawa (who plays the central obsessive), though despite their best efforts, the characters aren't drawn very well and end up coming off as wishy-washy and contradictory. A film that is this beautiful visually is never a waste, but beyond aesthetics this is merely hollow filmmaking.
½ May 26, 2013
Actually this is a very dull jidaigeki from Kinugasa (who isn't in the pantheon of Japanese directors) but it is outstanding for one thing: its color photography and accompanying art design. Feudal Japan could not have been this colorful with purple, neon green, and satiny pink everywhere. Some of the compositions with geometric swathes of these colors criss-crossing the screen are incredible. But the story, about a samurai who lusts for a married woman, is plain and rather unmotivated.
½ May 20, 2013
2.5: Not my favorite Japanese samurai picture, but certainly an interesting exploration of the power of lust and obsession. I'd say it's only worth it for cineastes though.
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