Kagemusha

Critics Consensus

Epic in scope and awash with striking color, Kagemusha marks Akira Kurosawa's successful return to the samurai epic.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,379
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Movie Info

In this film, filmmaker Akira Kurosawa spins the tale of a mighty Samurai warrior whose services are so much in demand that he's forced to dispatch doubles of himself. When the warrior dies, petty thief Kagemusha is spared from execution if he agrees to take over for his dead master.

Cast

Tatsuya Nakadai
as Shingen Kadeda
Kenichi Hagiwara
as Katsuyori Takeda
Tsutomu Yamazaki
as Nobukado Takeda
Shuji Otaki
as Yamagata
Shuji Otake
as Yamagata
Kota Yui
as Takemaru
Kaori Momoi
as Otsuyanokata
Masayuki Yui
as Iegasu Tokugawa
Takashi Shimura
as Gyobu Taguchi
Mitsuko Baisho
as Oyunokata
Jinpachi Nezu
as Sohachiro Tsuchiya
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Critic Reviews for Kagemusha

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (3)

  • "Kagemusha" is such a gratifying come-back picture for a justifiably revered filmmaker that one feels churlish harboring certain reservations.

    May 7, 2017 | Full Review…
  • The film he finally made is simple, bold, and colorful on the surface, but very thoughtful. Kurosawa seems to be saying that great human endeavors (in this case, samurai wars) depend entirely on large numbers of men sharing the same fantasies or beliefs.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • There is beauty in Kagemusha but it is impersonal, distant and ghostly. The old master has never been more rigorous.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Beyond the exquisite visual effects and battles, what is most interesting about the story is its protagonist: a double who turns into the shadow of the warrior Kagemusha. [Full Review in Spanish]

    Aug 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Excellent historical drama shows Kurosawa's broad range of gifts and skill.

    Dec 3, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The film swings like a pendulum between stillness and action, an occasionally jarring mix of David Lean-like panoramas with intimate character study.

    Dec 27, 2014 | Rating: 70/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Kagemusha

  • Aug 15, 2017
    Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior proves how important leadership is in a conflict. It tells the story of a powerful warlord, Shingen, in Japan's feudal conflict. He is wounded and before succumbing to them he orders his clan to find a double so that his enemies will not attack. I found this to be a rather interesting, enthralling and captivating piece of cinema. The study of imitation not just through physical embodiment, but also in mind. The double was a petty thief, all of sudden is then given power and responsibility of an entire clan. The gradual process of him being selfish to then becoming a role model was executed brilliantly. The beauty of it is that you can see how he is also convincing himself, the original warlord's family love him just as much as the original and he succumbs to this love. It's a different tradition, he came from following no rules to now creating them. Tatsuya Nakadai performed really well, his facial expressions were extremely emotive. I could see the fear in his eyes and the terror of bloodshed. But, again, the star of the show is Akira Kurosawa who really was a technical genius behind the camera. The first scene alone was a five minute one take shot. What a statement! Already I was hypnotised by his directing methods. His use of colour, slow panning shots during the dramatic scenes and then the frantic quick cuts during the war scenes. The production design and costumes were authentic, definitely felt like 1500s Japan. I like how different sub-clans had different coloured armour and banners, it made distinguishing the characters much easier. It's a long run time of 159 minutes and yet it didn't feel like it all, there is always something happening on screen. My only negative would be the heavy political script, there were times where I had no idea who was who or what was what. So many castle names and so many clans, I felt like I needed a notebook. Having said that, I am extremely susceptible to traditional Japan and their culture, not to mention the great performances and direction. Close to perfection!
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2013
    After a tribal leader is killed, his advisers use a double to masquerade as their dead leader. Akira Kurosawa, a master story-teller and a filmmaker whose stylistic flair is almost unmatched, brings a story that is simply unworthy of his talents. It is essentially a Japanese version of Dave (or more accurately stated, Dave is an American version of Kagemusha), and it is only Kurosawa's beautifully framed shots, engaging action choreography, and eye for character detail that keeps this film from descending into the obscure and banal wastefulness that plagues its latter-day American counterpart. Yes, I understand that Dave was meant as a cheeky comedy and Kagemusha is supposed to be profound, but I fail to see the profundity. Overall, this film is lesser Kurosawa, still engaging but far from the greatness of The Seven Samurai and Rashomon.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 12, 2012
    Kurosawa is, as usual, a masterful storyteller
    Jeff L Super Reviewer
  • Aug 02, 2012
    Another magical story bring by Kurosawa.
    Lucas M Super Reviewer

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