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Japan, Edo period: Hanzo (Shintaro Katsu) is pretty much the toughest
cop there is, he tries all kinds on torture on himself first just to find
out how effective they are, he takes special care in hardening his penis
(like hammering it with a hammer) just in case he has to rape some
information out of a woman (!), and he goes against everybody, even his
superiors, should need arise, and quite violently, too - and he detests
any form of corruption.
But since he is quite so righteous, he is a thorn in the eye of many of
his superiors, especially hias boss magistrate Onishi (Ko Nishimura), who
not only takes bribes on a regular basis, he also seems to have his hands
in covering up the escape of Kanbei, a notorious killer for hiremostly
employed by the upper class. Hanzo investigates, and soon he finds out
that Kanbei's former mistress Omino (Yukiji Asaoka) has at one point
suddenly become Onishi's mistress ... so he sets Omino up with a murder
charge and has her brought to his home, where he rapes her into submission
- and in the end, Omino doesn't only confess, she even agrees to become
Seems like Onishi was himself bribed into letting Kanbei go by the
Oyuras, nobility who are taboo for Hanzo. But before he can go against the
Oyuras, taboo or not, he has to test Omino's worth as a witness by handing
her over to Onishi - who promises her to assist in her escape, but
actually wants her to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. Hanzo however
saves her life, and by doing so also lures Kanbei out of his hiding ...
and kills him in a duel - and after he has done that, he knows he has
Onishi at his mercy, forcing him to let Kanbei's body disappear and to not
interfere when he goes after the Oyuras.
Soon enough, Hanzo has kidnapped Mrs Oyura and raped a confession out
of her ... and the rather underwhelming resolution of the story is that
Mrs Oyura was actually carrying secret loveletters of the lady Orako from
the Shogun's court as tattoos on her body, which was the only way the lady
could get the letters to her lover ... so despite all the to and fro,
there wasn't much actual substance to the case, but at least Hanzo got
something out of it: Mrs Oyura as his new mistress.
In a seperate story, tacked onto the ending of the film, Hanzo finds
two kids who want to kill their father because he lives in pain and asks
them to, but to keep them from being crucified for committing patricide he
felks them fake daddy's suicide ...
If you say a film about a cop who routinely rapes female witnesses is a
bit misogynistic and totally politically incorrect, you are of course
totally right - but at the same time, maybe you aren't. Hanzo the
Razor is a series you just have to take with a grain of salt.
Sure, this film is dead serious about everything, but it's at the same
time so over-the-top that it's doubtful that it was meant to be taken
seriously - not that the film would be a laugh-riot now, it's jsut, quite
simply, incredibly outrageous. The odd thing though, this was not an
independent project or a sexploitation flick for select audiences but a
mainstream movie (and series) starring respected chambara actor Shintaro
Katsu of Zatoichi-fame,
directed by veteran chambara director Kenji Misumi and produced by
respected production house Toho,
which in a way makes the film even more outrageous.
Having said all that, Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice might
not be the best film you have ever seen, much of it might seem pretty
routine actually, but it's still worth a look if you can leave behind your
political correctness for a while.