Blood End

(TENGU TO) 1969

Director: Satsuo Yamamoto

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Blood EndLeftist director Satsuo Yamamoto got mightily carried away with Blood End (Tengu to, 1969), making his characters mouthpieces for political expression.

He was the director of the first two Shinobi no mono ninja classics, in which his left-leaning politics are muted, though sufficiently present to give greater humanity & meaning to an action tale.

But in Blood End characters literally stand around making socialist vs. fascist or status quo vs. utopia statements.

The brutalized peasant farmer Sentaro (Tatsuya Nakadai) is introduced to an idealistic young samurai (Go Kato) who expounds corny rhetoric. The film occasionally seems entirely too propogandistic in nature, didactic dialogue taking up screen time that could've gone to characterization, story, or action

Blood EndThe often insipid rhetoric does have a mundane appeal & does make Blood End something a bit different from the usual gory samurai film.

Then about half way through the tale, the "enemy" begins to expound his politics, & these are equally convincing & perhaps even closer to an idealistic vision.

The sophist turnabout reveals the power of propoganda, with the proponents of their respective ideologies desirous of convincing Sentaro, a "mere" farmer, that only their viewpoint is correct.

Caught between two political extremes, the peasant who has learned fencing could tip the balance depending on whose ideology he embraces.

Blood EndHe feels pulled toward the pride of the samurai as a class, but is equally pulled toward the "great man" who would see the class system supplanted by egalitarianism.

In the climactic battle, the film lives up to its English title Blood End, until only the peasant is left alive. This ending is effective both for shocking violence & for making its political point that all political points of view lead to destruction & only the common people are apt to survive all the lies & illusions imposed upon them.

Sentaro standing in for "the common people" is carved to shreds & knocked from a cliff, yet even so wanders wildly from the mountains asserting madly, "I will never die!"
copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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