Sandanju no Otoko
The Man with a Shotgun
Shottogan no Otoko / The Man with the Hollow-Tip Bullets
Kaneo Iwai for Nikkatsu
directed by Seijun Suzuki
starring Hideaki Nitani, Izumi Ashikawa, Yuji Kodaka, Yoko Minamida, Akio Tanaka, Eiji Go, Keisuke Noro, Asao Sano, Jun Hamamura, Hiroshi Kono, Toshio Takahara, Takashi Ebata
written by Yoshikazu Ishii, Takeo Matsuura, music by Masayoshi Ikeda
Available on DVD !
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Ryoji is a drifter who happens to always carry a
shotgun with him, one he's perfectly handy with. These days, he happens to
arrive on a sawmill run by shady Nishioka, who seems to be in the habit of
hiring ruffians and criminals to run the place, and who also owns the
local saloon run by his wife to make the money his made off him right
back. The locals from the next village are none too pleased with the folks
the sawmill attracts, but Nishioka also pays the most taxes by far, so the
politicians feel obliged to do his bidding. Nishioka likes Ryoji's
attitude because Ryoji's tough, but he's also a very righteous man ...
Then the local sheriff's attacked and almost killed,
and when nobody in town wants the job, Ryoji volunteers. But there's also
another guy who wants the job, Masa, who might be on the crude and cocky
side, but he's almost as tough as Ryoji, and he definitely can tell right
from wrong and act according to it. For some reason the two can't see eye
to eye so they decide to fight out in a duel who might get the job - but
however often they try they're always interrupted ...
Ryoji has a secret motive to become the area's sheriff
though, his wife has been raped and killed by a group of ruffians a few
years back, and he thinks he has tracked them down to the sawmill - but
has no idea about their actual identity. But the things he finds out about
the sawmill almost make his personal vendetta pale in comparison, like the
fact that Nishioka also owns a secret poppy field in a secret valley next
to the sawmill, and he isn't one to plant poppies just because he loves
Thing is, that discovery puts Ryoji on the spot even
more, as nobody's perfectly happy with him knowing this ...
Of course, purely judging by its story, The Man with a
Shotgun is mediocre pulp fiction - and yet, on screen it's a very
entertaining and fresh movie, a thriller that has the look and feel of a
western (even if it's clearly set in Japan), and it's a movie that really
understands to move ahead, pretty much stumbling from one shoot-out, chase
and fistfight into the next, all carried by an extremely stylish
directorial effort that makes perfect use of its locations, and a bunch of
very cool performances.
Definitely worth a look!