ADVENTURE IN KIGAN CASTLE (kigan jo no boken) (1966 JAPAN) D: SENKICHI TANIGUCHI W: "KAORU MOBUCHI" (TAKESHI SHIMURA) EXEC P: TOMOYUKI TANAKA
A Japanese student in Tung Huan, China (star Toshiro Mifune, who`s production company made this) is rescued from slavery by a Japanese Buddhist monk (Tadao Nakamura), and accompanies him on a journey along the Silk Road (the locations were actually shot in Isfahan, Iran) to fetch some Buddhist relics to take to Japan and build a temple there. In a small town they encounter an opressive King (Tatsuya Mihashi), and Mifune is sentenced to die for his impudence. Nakamura replaces him at the stake, to be pardoned if Mifune can get the relics to his younger brother (Toshio Kurosawa) and return in the space of three days (this part of the story is based on Osamu Dazai`s famous and quite excellent short story Run, Melos!, a variation of the Roman DAMON AND PYTHIAS legend). The locations obviously made an impression, as this historical adventure seems to have a very Arabaian Nights-flavour (Mifune and Taniguchi had previously collaborated on THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD). The SFX include a tornado, and some nice miniature work. Ichiro Arashima as a kindly wizard (who sleeps underwater) and Hideo Amamoto as his old hag nemesis with control over a "Hell Pond" made of oil provide the fantasy elements. Makoto Soto (of DESPERADO OUTPOST fame) hams it up as the real villain of the piece. Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi (both soon to be eye-candy in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE) and Yumi Shirakawa provide the feminine glamour. With Minoru Takada, Akihiko Hirata, Jun Tazaki, Sachi Sakai, Susumu Kurobe, Ren Yamamoto, Ikio Sawamura, Naoya Kusakawa and a score from Akira Ifukube. It`s the kind of all-star, gimmicky big release of it`s day that`s forgotten and mostly ho-hum entertainment today. Taniguchi is most well-known now for providing one of the source movies (KEY OF KEYS) that WHAT`S UP, TIGER LILY? spoofed.

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