Archive of films Assassin / Ansatsu

1964, 103 min

Section: Shochiku Nouvelle Vague
Year: 2007

This samurai drama with a touch of the political thriller follows the brief life of Hachiro Kiyokawa, a gifted samurai of many talents who became a wanton mercenary killer. Black-and-white CinemaScope, a score by Tôru Takemitsu, and combat choreography – at least three reasons why this film can never be forgotten.


Masahiro Shinoda’s first historical film follows the short but remarkable life of Hachiro Kiyokawa, a gifted samurai of many talents who decided to take advantage of a time of change and instability in the 1860s to fulfil his own ambition to take power. The samurai tacking between two political fractions – the Emperor and the Tokugawa shogunate – symbolises his own moral decay: progressing from a virtuous and loyal warrior to a merciless, corruptible killer of the belief that life can be bought and sold. Playing thus with fire, the charismatic Kiyokawa inevitably meets his demise, but his violent death is only the tip of the iceberg: the social disintegration infects even the most virtuous stratum – the samurai. This samurai drama with a touch of the political thriller is, in a way, the most nihilistic milestone typical of the Japanese genre. The splendid visuality of the black-and-white CinemaScope, the enigmatic music of Tôru Takemitsu, and the combat choreography underscore this film as one that is simply not to be missed.

About the director

Masahiro Shinoda (b. 1931, Gifu prefecture) is a director known as the intellectual of the Japanese New Wave. He studied theatre history at university but was forced to seek work early on after the death of his mother in 1953. His experience in the Shochiku studio led to his debut One Way Ticket to Love, 1960. From the outset Shinoda was fascinated by the deeper psychology and aesthetics that his distinct visual style brought to his films. After leaving Shochiku in 1965, in an independent production, he focused on the work of classic dramatist Monzaemon, among others. The films Double Suicide, 1969 and Gonza the Spearman, 1986, for which Shinoda was awarded a special Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival, were based on Monzaemon’s work. The films Silence, 1971 and MacArthur’s Children, 1984, in which the director turned to the consequences of the Second World War for his generation, were both distributed in Czech cinemas.


Shochiku Co., Ltd.
4-1-1 Tsukiji, Togeki Bldg. 12th Floor, Chuo-Ku, 104 8422, Tokyo
Tel: +81 355 501 623
Fax: +81 355 501 654
E-mail: [email protected]

The Japan Foundation
4-16-3 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0004, Tokyo
Tel: +81 355 623 535
Fax: +81 355 623 500
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Shochiku Nouvelle Vague
Director: Masahiro Shinoda
Screenplay: Nobuo Yamada podle románu / based on a novel by Ryotaro Shiba
Dir. of Photography: Masao Kosugi
Music: Tôru Takemitsu
Production: Shochiku
Cast: Tetsuro Tamba, Eiji Okada, Eitarô Ozawa, Isao Kimura, Muga Takewaki, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada
Contact: Shochiku Co., Ltd., The Japan Foundation


Junko Kawaguchi

Masahiro Shinoda

Film Director, Film Director

Marie Suzuki



© 2021 FILM SERVIS FESTIVAL KARLOVY VARY, a.s. [email protected] +420 221 411 011 All contacts

HistoryHistory GalleryGallery
Accompanying programmeAccompanying programme Festival Pass, tickets, reservationsFestival Pass, tickets
HistoryHistory ContactsContacts
Archive of filmsArchive of films KVIFF TalksKVIFF Talks
Industry Days Programme 2021Industry Days Programme ContactsContacts
VideogalleryVideogallery GalleryGallery
ContactsContacts Daily plansDaily plans
HistoryHistory Festival GuideFestival Guide