The Drifting Avenger


Director: Junya Sato

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Drifting AvengerThis unintentionally wacky wild west film was shot partially in Nundle, Australia, mostly in Japan, with a Japanese crew from Toei Studios, widescreen & color, striving to capture the look & feel of a spaghetti western, failing big-time.

The Drifting Avenger (Koya no toseinin, 1968) was clearly intended to give the biggest star of the decade, Ken Takakura, a chance to dress & act like a western gunslinger, whose father (Takashi Shimura) raised Ken's character in the American west where he failed to learn proper English.

The Drifting AvengerAlthough Ken is one of my favorite actors, & looks good in western jeans & cowboy hat, he is nevertheless absurdly out of place sauntering through the swinging doors of a saloon & ordering, "Wish-key."

The film is so cheap & awful that when the villain's glued-on beard is hanging loose on one side of his face for several scenes, nobody bothers to stop shooting to reattach the beard, let alone blow the budget by reshooting those scenes.

Finding a caucasian leading lady who knew how to bow from her knees in a perfectly Japanese style is just one symptom of a script & production team that knew nothing about the wild west, wherein saloon gals just wouldn't know squat about polite geisha behavior.

The constant dissonance of the film's pretense of having something to do with the American west is actually kind of fun to observe. The more serious everyone acts, the funnier it gets.

There's no plot worthy of the name. A Japanese family in the old west is slaughtered by bandits. A little boy was hiding under the bed when his family got killed, & he's the chap who grows up to be Ken Takakura on the trail of vengeance.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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