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Somehow, the rogueish warrior Jigoku (Masahiro Takashima) has come into
the possession of a certain golden sword that grants him access to the
wonderful kingdom Zipang that is supposed to be made of gold. But before
he even knows it, he has a) brought an ancient warrior (Shu Ken) back to
life who is on an eternal quest to find his true love, the queen of Zipang
(Haruko Wanibuchi), and b) attracted the attention of Hanzo (Yukio
Yamato), the chief ninja of the Shogun (Chiyonosuke Azuma), who wants to
steal the golden sword for his master. But instead, Hanzo is sucked to
Zipang along with Yuri the Pistol (Narumi Yasuda), a bounty hunter after
Jigoku's head whom Jigoku has nevertheless fallen in love with.
In Zipang, Hanzo becomes the King's (Mikijiro Hira) prisoner while Yuri
somehow manages to track down the Queen without even looking for her, and
the queen, even though imprisoned by her own hubby the king, manages to
get Yuri back to the real world somehow.
Hanzo, too, manages to escape Zipang, but without the golden sword and
without one hand, which he later substitutes with a mechanical metal claw
before leading his ninja hordes into an all-out attack on Zipang.
Jigoku and friends including the returned Yuri soon have to fight the
King of Zipang, who is next to invulnerable in his metal armour and
carrying the golden sword, and he almost kills the ancient warrior, and
only refrains from killing Jigoku and Yuri too when he sees how much they
are in love - which is his soft spot ...
Soon enough, Jigoku and friends and Hanzo and the ninjas all invade
Zipang, where they finally fight and defeat the king - who once dieing
bleeds gold that seems to rain all over his kingdom. Seeing the lovers the
ancient warrior and the queen of Zipang reunited in the gold rain leaves
everyone in awe, everyone but Hanzo, who now sees his chance to steal the
golden sword - but once he turns it over to the shogun, it has turned into
a rusty and crumpling piece of metal, and only now daóes the shogun
realize the kingdom made from gold first described in Marco Polo's diary
is actually Japan itself ...
Yes, in a way Zipang is as childish and silly as fantasy
pictures can get and it's virtually loaded with clichés, some of them
taken from Japanese popular culture some from Western sources ... and yet,
Zipang is nothing short of great, a decidedly tongue-in-cheek
rollercoaster ride through pop culture that uses all of its clichés, from
over-ritualized fights to far-out armour and fighting gears to retro
futuristic weaponry to one-against-all fighting scenarios to truly
exhilarating effect and knows how to play with genre maqinstays to make
them look fresh. Add to this wonderful sets, expertly staged action and
fast pacing that leaves nothing to be desired and you've got one hell of a