『The Valiant Red PeonyGamble Oryu’s Return』
Cast：Junko Fuji, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Bunta Sugawara, Kanjyuro Arashi
A few years ago, Oryu made Okimi, the blind daughter of Otoki who was disguised as Oryu and was later killed, have an operation but then separated ways. She was concerned about Okimi and continued her journey to search for her, only to run into the lone wolf gambler Aoyama Tsunejiro, who tells her that a similar girl was in Asakusa, and decides to travel to Tokyo. Two that are bonded with invisible memories; Oryu and Tsunejiro who stand up to an assault for justice. Tears fall as they part in the snow at the Imado Bridge.
The sixth of the series, placed some time after the third film “Hanafuda Shobu”, portrays Oryu who searches for the blind Okimi relying on the memories that remain in her hands, and the world of debt and humanity of the Asakusa show business. In contrast to “Hanafuda Shobu”, the director holds back on the information to bring up the contrast of the acting. The 7 minute long-take of Oryu and Okimi’s reunion is a miraculous cut. The Low-angle long-take where characters fully placed in the screen create a harmony of emotions, is an ultimate point of cinema. However, this film cannot be fully described through style only. The hidden references of the drama of memories and glances that tie together with Bunta Sugawara’s infamous scene at the Imado Bridge in the snow, will leave viewers word-less with its beauty.
Absorbed by silent films such as the Daisuke Ito films, he enters the film industry with the help of his uncle, Sadao Yamanaka. He makes his debut as director in 1951, mainly directing period and yakuza films with Toei. After the 60’s, with his experiences in major films of many genres and productions, he builds his reputation with the fixed, low-angle, long-take shots, and action films reminding of the energetic films of the past. His affectionate and wrathful narrative that portrays the passionate lives of men and women who live outside social expectations, and his directing skills fully using the depth of a wide screen to vividly show the characters, are outstanding in the world’s history of cinema. The 1998 Locarno International Film Festival’s retrospective surprised many cinephiles. This will be a significant screening to see how the world interprets his talent, that portrayed domestic stories as universal action films.