The Three Talismans

Director: Sadatsugu Matsuda

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Three TalismansThe seventh & last of Hashizo's films in in the "Young Lord Samurai" series was Samurai Torimono-cho: Okesho Gumo (1962) with a subtitled print playing ethnic theaters in the USA as The Third Talisman.

This widescreen color samurai detective yarn opens with a murder witnessed by two orphaned girls, Ochizo & Oryu, who had been waiting out the rain under a nearby bridge.

One of the killers remarks, "Now we can manage Fukagawa area." Moments later, the victim, not quite dead, gives the girls a talisman & on his last breath says, "Give this amulet to Koen Bando the shamisen player."

The Three TalismansOver the course of the film, Young Lord detective must keep the two girls from being killed for what they've seen, figure out what the amulet & two others like it mean, find Koen Bando who has changed her name to Majiharu & become a blackmailer, avenge officer Kokichi of Kanda who was murdered in the line of duty, find out what the ruined cop Sugano (who tells fortunes in the street) really knows about corruption in the district, evade two poisoning attempts on Wakasama's life, with enough other complications to keep even the most avid mystery buff on tiptoes.

Hashizo's character doesn't draw sword until it is totally inescapable, as he's a good guy who doesn't like to hurt people, not even bad people if he can help it. One scene has him fighting with jiujitsu to a circus score.

Another scene has him defending himself with a bucket rather than draw a sword. Bucket justsu? So we're not talking adult movie here. Hashizo rather specialized in kidflicks, & this is a fairly good example to captivate the whole family.

The Three TalismansWhen sword does at last leave scabbard, it is usually to good effect. His encounter with the yojimbo bodyguard Katagai is classic chambara swordplay.

The bad guys Karatsuya & Echizenya run a Chinese-style theater, operate a smuggling ring at a time when contact with China was illegal, & control the whole entertainment district, with connections in high places so no one can touch them.

One of their hirelings is Tatsu, played by Hiroki Matsukata, another youth-player of great beauty but more on the Elvis Presley level compared to Hashizo's purer even girlish beauty.

After Hiroki's first flush of success in youth roles, Hiroki aged into a very decent samurai & yakuza actor & even made a transition into television when the Japanese film industry when through a long slump.

The Three TalismansIn 1969 he temporarily left Toei for the more dour Daiei Studios, when it was hoped he could become "the new Raizo Ichikawa" after Raizo's untimely death.

But putting him too soon in new films about Kyoshiro Nemuri, which was Raizo's signature role, was not appreciated by a grieving public, so Daiei was not pleased with their investment.

[SPOILER ALERT!] In The Three Talismans Hiroki plays an expert with daggers & an ambiguous character throughout. His behavior appears nervous & cruel as he rolls walnuts around & around in his hands like Captain Queeg, & poses threateningly.

The Three TalismansYet somehow he never actually harms anyone. In the end, he will reveal himself as an undercover cop by the name of Shinnojo.

Though he is Wakasama's rival for the hand of the female lead, he uses his dagger expertise to help win the day for his rival, during the climactic battle scene.

In the end, Wakasama has lost the girl to Tatsu/Shinnojo, mainly because Wakasama as a series character cannot settle down with a wife, & in most episodes of the series he ends up evading a settled life with any girl. If they'd known there wasn't going to be yet another episode, perhaps it could've ended this one more in favor of cooling Wakasama's man-about-town lifestyle. [END SPOILER ALERT]

Nevertheless, we see Wakasama fishing & having a good time in the epilog, true to Toei Studio's tendancy toward tacked-on happy endings regardless of the number of deaths along the way.

The cast additionally includes Kingao Yanagiya, Isao Yamagata, Yoshiko Sakuma, Hiroki Sakuramachi, & Haruo Tanaka.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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