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  • It's probably a tough subject for Americans to deal with: the Japanese war criminals of WWII. But it is a fact that the higher-ups got off easy while those of lower rank got the shaft. Such is the case of Toyomatsu Shimizu, a small-town barber who is drafted toward the end of the war and ordered by his superiors to kill a US POW with his bayonet. It turns out the POW is already dead, but Shimizu is sentenced to death anyway. We then follow his desperate attempts to get his sentence commuted. Furanki (Frankie) Sakai is an interesting choice for the lead role; I've only seen him in comic roles in other films. He does a superb job here. The director, Hashimoto, was primarily a writer. He co-wrote most of Kurosawa's films. His only other directorial effort was 'Lake of Illusions' in 1982. What this film may lack in style it makes up for in narrative and emotional power. It is absolutely heartbreaking. This is truly a forgotten Japanese classic. 10/10.