Agent Shiranui (1960)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama

Agent Shiranui (1960) Poster

Before he portrayed the legendary blind swordsman, Zatoichi, Shintaro Katsu played Suganoichi, a blind court masseur with a dark side. An outcast since birth, he learned from a young age ... See full summary »



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21 July 2013 | henri sauvage
| A Tale Steeped in Evil
Shintaro Katsu plays blind masseur Suginoichi, a character who in this earlier film is, aside from his affliction and occupation, the complete antithesis of Zatoichi the honorable and big-hearted Blind Swordsman. An outcast born in poverty, even as a young boy he's an accomplished extortionist with big plans for his future. The film then follows Suginoichi as an adult, when a chance meeting with an ailing traveler who's carrying a large sum of money launches him on a Grand Guignol spree of murder, theft, betrayal, blackmail and rape.

I have to hand it to Katsu: Suginoichi has to be one of the most fascinatingly repellent characters I've ever seen. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He hates the world and everyone in it, especially women, and they'll all be made to pay. The lesson he's taken from life is that if he can rise fast enough, he'll be able to keep one step ahead of retribution for his evil deeds. And for a time, a long time in fact, he prospers, but in an ironic and highly appropriate twist, Suginoichi's comeuppance arrives when a nasty trick he played on the occasion of his first murder backfires at the worst moment.

If you watch this film expecting something like the Zatoichi series, especially if you're looking for dazzling displays of sword-play, you'll be sorely disappointed. If on the other hand you like dark period dramas, shot in the starkly beautiful black-and-white in which Japanese cinematographers once excelled, I recommend checking this one out.

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Release Date:

1 September 1960



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