When winds of change sweep Japan, overthrowing three centuries of Shogunate rule, Gonzo, a peasant, enlists in the Imperial Restoration Force, which promises to abolish the oppressive practices of the past. When the advance guard approaches his old hometown, he convinces his commander to let him ride ahead and prepare the locals for the advent of the New World Order.
When he triumphantly rides into town wearing the Red Lion Mane of Office he borrowed from his commander, he expects a warm welcome, but gets far more than he bargained for. His friends think he's going to save them, the incompetent local officials think he's after their heads, a secret band of shogunate fanatics want him dead, and he can't even read his own proclamations.
This is a color film that was released in 1969 starring Toshiro Mifune. This is a excellent dark comedy with some funny and goofy scenes with Gonzo (Mifune) playing a comedic and tragic character. This was the first role I have seen Mifune play as a comedic character and he did it very well as the stuttering, clumsy Gonzo. I found myself laughing loudly at times. I really liked how the movie was unpredictable with many plot twists and the film moved along at a good pace with no slow points. Even better was the entertaining and funny cast of characters in this film.
This is a very political movie and I have heard some people claim it even has socialist aspects to it. I don't know about that but the movie definitely is a statement about despite man's attempt to overthrow one oppressor, they often end up being under the boot of another master. In this case, the villagers realize at the end that the Imperial Forces are really not much different to the old oppressive shogunate. All in all this was a great movie filled with comedy, tragedy, some good sword action and great acting by Mifune and the other cast of characters.