An Actor's Revenge


1h 54m 1963

Brief Synopsis

A female impersonator in a Kabuki troupe, upon reaching the age of maturity, is obligated to avenge the death of his parents.

Film Details

Also Known As
Actor's Revenge, Revenge of Ukeno-Jo, The, Revenge of Yuki-No-Jo, Revenge of Yukinojo, Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, Yukinoj├┤ henge
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
1963
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

A female impersonator in a Kabuki troupe, upon reaching the age of maturity, is obligated to avenge the death of his parents.

Film Details

Also Known As
Actor's Revenge, Revenge of Ukeno-Jo, The, Revenge of Yuki-No-Jo, Revenge of Yukinojo, Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, Yukinoj├┤ henge
Genre
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
1963
Location
Japan

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Revenge of a Kabuki Actor - REVENGE OF A KABUKI ACTOR - Kon Ichikawa's 1963 Drama on DVD


From Kon Ichikawa, the maker of The Burmese Harp, Fires on the Plain and Tokyo Olympiad comes Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (Yukujino Henge), an entertaining and decidedly strange 1963 tale of murderous vengeance. Filmed in beautiful color and designed in such a way that "real" exteriors are almost as stylized as the tableaux on the Kabuki stage, Ichikawa's masterful film features several notable stars.

The drama and action cut across class lines in 1830s Japan. Yukinojo Nakamura (Kazuo Hasegawa) is an oyama, a Kabuki actor specializing in playing women. He has returned to Edo to revenge himself on the evil merchants who drove his parents to suicidal deaths when he was just a child. As is the custom, Yukinojo plays the female role offstage as well, which makes him a revenge-seeking, sword-fighting cross-dresser. The situation gets a few odd looks but it's nothing outrageous or new; since 1935 Yukujino Henge has been made into a movie or a TV play at least seven times. The famed actor talks in a stage falsetto but is a master at swordsmanship, thanks to a secret past as a student of the martial arts.

On the stage Yukinojo plays doomed princesses and compromised courtesans. He's apparently so appealing that two beautiful women fall madly in love with him. The clever Ohatsu (Fujiko Yamamoto) is a master pickpocket and burglar, and part of an informal group of thieves who compete for fame and popularity just as do stage actors. Her boss is Yamitaro the Thief (also Kazuo Hasegawa, in a double role). Ohatsu and another aspiring thief listen at doorways and hide on rooftops to observe Yukinojo's progress; they approve of his plan of vengeance.

The other love-struck female is Namiji (Ayako Wakao of Manji and Street of Shame), the daughter of one of the three wicked merchants. Namiji has been promised as a concubine for the Shogun, and the merchant's livelihood depends upon her obedience. Knowing that Yukinojo has captured his daughter's heart, the merchant invites the fancy actor to his home in hopes that direct social contact will break the spell. Even though Yukinojo looks and behaves like a middle-aged woman, Namiji swoons in rapture. The actor realizes that he can use the innocent Namiji to put his revenge plan into action. Yukinojo knows she will suffer, but feels he has no choice.

Revenge of a Kabuki Actor hits us immediately with a wild mix of visual and acting styles. The wide Kabuki stage proscenium creates an even more elongated frame within the 2:35 DaieiScope image. Some of the night exteriors are filmed on sets almost as stylized at those in the theater. The actors and merchants plot in formal sitting rooms, while flashbacks transport us to grisly suicide scenes from the past. A quick-cut montage shows starving peasants rioting for rice. A couple of impressive swordfights are included as well -- Ohatsu is excited to see a real sword battle, instead of one of those fakes from the Edo stage! Finally, when Yukinojo disguises himself to terrorize one of the evil merchants, director Ichikawa uses classic lighting tricks more suited to a Japanese ghost story.

Further expanding the film's range of action and drama, the carefree thieves form a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on Yukinojo's scheme. Yukinojo must contend with a bitter rival from his student days, a swordsman named Heima (Eiji Funakoshi). When Najimi is stricken with shock after a violent incident, a fugitive priest (Shintaro Katsu) must remind himself of his vow of chastity as he saves her from further harm. At this time Katsu was just finding fame as the beloved blind swordsman Zatoichi.

Ichikawa integrates all the divergent material into a satisfying whole -- Revenge of a Kabuki Actor finishes on a note of mystery and legend. I imagine that American viewers will watch the movie expecting Yukinojo to eventually drop his effeminate gestures, lower his voice several octaves and tell us how he really feels. Don't hold your breath, as it doesn't happen.

AnimEigo's DVD of Revenge of a Kabuki Actor is in fine shape, with an excellent enhanced transfer that shows off some great color designs. The film is stylized for color but never becomes fussy -- it doesn't overpower the story as in Kwaidan. AnimEigo's menus alert us to audio problems on an untouched mono track and provide a second track where they've minimized the hiss. I heard something a bit off during the title sequence but nothing more. The music score is very interesting, by the way, utilizing traditional string accompaniment for the Kabuki performances and light jazz for some of the action with the amusing thieves.

The attentive subtitling becomes intrusive only when specific translations sound too much like contemporary street jargon -- I assume it's that way for commercial considerations. Always welcome are the helpful program notes, which cover many details about the time period of the story, the nature of oyama performers and histories of all the major actors. A lot of thought goes into these well-researched AnimEigo extras.

For more information about Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, visit Animeigo.To order Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Revenge Of A Kabuki Actor - Revenge Of A Kabuki Actor - Kon Ichikawa's 1963 Drama On Dvd

Revenge of a Kabuki Actor - REVENGE OF A KABUKI ACTOR - Kon Ichikawa's 1963 Drama on DVD

From Kon Ichikawa, the maker of The Burmese Harp, Fires on the Plain and Tokyo Olympiad comes Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (Yukujino Henge), an entertaining and decidedly strange 1963 tale of murderous vengeance. Filmed in beautiful color and designed in such a way that "real" exteriors are almost as stylized as the tableaux on the Kabuki stage, Ichikawa's masterful film features several notable stars. The drama and action cut across class lines in 1830s Japan. Yukinojo Nakamura (Kazuo Hasegawa) is an oyama, a Kabuki actor specializing in playing women. He has returned to Edo to revenge himself on the evil merchants who drove his parents to suicidal deaths when he was just a child. As is the custom, Yukinojo plays the female role offstage as well, which makes him a revenge-seeking, sword-fighting cross-dresser. The situation gets a few odd looks but it's nothing outrageous or new; since 1935 Yukujino Henge has been made into a movie or a TV play at least seven times. The famed actor talks in a stage falsetto but is a master at swordsmanship, thanks to a secret past as a student of the martial arts. On the stage Yukinojo plays doomed princesses and compromised courtesans. He's apparently so appealing that two beautiful women fall madly in love with him. The clever Ohatsu (Fujiko Yamamoto) is a master pickpocket and burglar, and part of an informal group of thieves who compete for fame and popularity just as do stage actors. Her boss is Yamitaro the Thief (also Kazuo Hasegawa, in a double role). Ohatsu and another aspiring thief listen at doorways and hide on rooftops to observe Yukinojo's progress; they approve of his plan of vengeance. The other love-struck female is Namiji (Ayako Wakao of Manji and Street of Shame), the daughter of one of the three wicked merchants. Namiji has been promised as a concubine for the Shogun, and the merchant's livelihood depends upon her obedience. Knowing that Yukinojo has captured his daughter's heart, the merchant invites the fancy actor to his home in hopes that direct social contact will break the spell. Even though Yukinojo looks and behaves like a middle-aged woman, Namiji swoons in rapture. The actor realizes that he can use the innocent Namiji to put his revenge plan into action. Yukinojo knows she will suffer, but feels he has no choice. Revenge of a Kabuki Actor hits us immediately with a wild mix of visual and acting styles. The wide Kabuki stage proscenium creates an even more elongated frame within the 2:35 DaieiScope image. Some of the night exteriors are filmed on sets almost as stylized at those in the theater. The actors and merchants plot in formal sitting rooms, while flashbacks transport us to grisly suicide scenes from the past. A quick-cut montage shows starving peasants rioting for rice. A couple of impressive swordfights are included as well -- Ohatsu is excited to see a real sword battle, instead of one of those fakes from the Edo stage! Finally, when Yukinojo disguises himself to terrorize one of the evil merchants, director Ichikawa uses classic lighting tricks more suited to a Japanese ghost story. Further expanding the film's range of action and drama, the carefree thieves form a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on Yukinojo's scheme. Yukinojo must contend with a bitter rival from his student days, a swordsman named Heima (Eiji Funakoshi). When Najimi is stricken with shock after a violent incident, a fugitive priest (Shintaro Katsu) must remind himself of his vow of chastity as he saves her from further harm. At this time Katsu was just finding fame as the beloved blind swordsman Zatoichi. Ichikawa integrates all the divergent material into a satisfying whole -- Revenge of a Kabuki Actor finishes on a note of mystery and legend. I imagine that American viewers will watch the movie expecting Yukinojo to eventually drop his effeminate gestures, lower his voice several octaves and tell us how he really feels. Don't hold your breath, as it doesn't happen. AnimEigo's DVD of Revenge of a Kabuki Actor is in fine shape, with an excellent enhanced transfer that shows off some great color designs. The film is stylized for color but never becomes fussy -- it doesn't overpower the story as in Kwaidan. AnimEigo's menus alert us to audio problems on an untouched mono track and provide a second track where they've minimized the hiss. I heard something a bit off during the title sequence but nothing more. The music score is very interesting, by the way, utilizing traditional string accompaniment for the Kabuki performances and light jazz for some of the action with the amusing thieves. The attentive subtitling becomes intrusive only when specific translations sound too much like contemporary street jargon -- I assume it's that way for commercial considerations. Always welcome are the helpful program notes, which cover many details about the time period of the story, the nature of oyama performers and histories of all the major actors. A lot of thought goes into these well-researched AnimEigo extras. For more information about Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, visit Animeigo.To order Revenge of a Kabuki Actor, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008)


Kon Ichikawa, the acclaimed Japanese director whose best work such as The Burmese Harp, Ototo and the documentary Tokyo Olympiad earned him international awards and further elevated the strength of post war Japanese cinema, died on February 13 in Tokyo of pneumonia. He was 92.

He was born on November 25, 1915, in Ise, Japan. Ichikawa built on a long standing fascination with art and animation when, after formal schooling, he moved to Kyoto to work at the animation department of J.O. Studios. Working his way up the studio ladder, he eventually made his first film, a 20 minute short called A Girl at Dojo Temple (1946) using a cast of puppets.

He spent the next few years working on small, but well-received features such as Endless Passion (1949), Stolen Love (1951) and Mr. Poo (1953) before scoring a breakout hit with his moving, sweeping epic The Burmese Harp (1956). The film, about a Japanese soldier (Shoji Yasui) who becomes a Buddhist monk and devotes himself to burying his dead comrades, was acclaimed for its strong humanity and meditative tone. It won the San Giorgio Prize at the Venice Film Festival and put Ichikawa on the map as a major talent.

Ichikawa would continue his solid streak throughout the '60s: the devastating, often horrific war drama Fires on the Plains (1959), the moving family drama Ototo (1960); a fascinating look at Japanese male virility in Kagi (1960, a Golden Globe and Cannes Festival winner); the strong social document The Outcast (1962); the gender bending An Actor's Revenge (1963); and his stunning observations of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Tokyo Olympiad (1965) which won a BAFTA winner for Best Documentary.

Although he would never quite scale the same artistic heights of the '50s and '60s, Ichikawa, ever the consummate filmmaker, would continue to have domestic hits in his native Japan in a variety of molds: social satire I Am A Cat (1975); the pulsating period piece The Firebird (1979); the sentimental, but beautifully photographed domestic drama, The Makioka Sisters (1983); and arguably, his last great film, the samurai epic 47 Ronin (1994).

Ichikawa was still directing theatrical and television movies well into his 80s and never officially retired. His last film was The Inugamis (2006). He was married to screenwriter Natto Wada from 1948 until her death in 1983. He is survived by two sons.

by Michael T. Toole

Kon Ichikawa (1915-2008)

Kon Ichikawa, the acclaimed Japanese director whose best work such as The Burmese Harp, Ototo and the documentary Tokyo Olympiad earned him international awards and further elevated the strength of post war Japanese cinema, died on February 13 in Tokyo of pneumonia. He was 92. He was born on November 25, 1915, in Ise, Japan. Ichikawa built on a long standing fascination with art and animation when, after formal schooling, he moved to Kyoto to work at the animation department of J.O. Studios. Working his way up the studio ladder, he eventually made his first film, a 20 minute short called A Girl at Dojo Temple (1946) using a cast of puppets. He spent the next few years working on small, but well-received features such as Endless Passion (1949), Stolen Love (1951) and Mr. Poo (1953) before scoring a breakout hit with his moving, sweeping epic The Burmese Harp (1956). The film, about a Japanese soldier (Shoji Yasui) who becomes a Buddhist monk and devotes himself to burying his dead comrades, was acclaimed for its strong humanity and meditative tone. It won the San Giorgio Prize at the Venice Film Festival and put Ichikawa on the map as a major talent. Ichikawa would continue his solid streak throughout the '60s: the devastating, often horrific war drama Fires on the Plains (1959), the moving family drama Ototo (1960); a fascinating look at Japanese male virility in Kagi (1960, a Golden Globe and Cannes Festival winner); the strong social document The Outcast (1962); the gender bending An Actor's Revenge (1963); and his stunning observations of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for Tokyo Olympiad (1965) which won a BAFTA winner for Best Documentary. Although he would never quite scale the same artistic heights of the '50s and '60s, Ichikawa, ever the consummate filmmaker, would continue to have domestic hits in his native Japan in a variety of molds: social satire I Am A Cat (1975); the pulsating period piece The Firebird (1979); the sentimental, but beautifully photographed domestic drama, The Makioka Sisters (1983); and arguably, his last great film, the samurai epic 47 Ronin (1994). Ichikawa was still directing theatrical and television movies well into his 80s and never officially retired. His last film was The Inugamis (2006). He was married to screenwriter Natto Wada from 1948 until her death in 1983. He is survived by two sons. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Originally designed as a tribute to actor Kazuo Hasegawa, whose 300th film this was. The film was based Teinosuke Kinugasa's Yukinojo henge (1935) which also starred Hasegawa in the same dual role.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1963

Released in United States June 1991

Released in United States on Video May 11, 1994

Released in United States September 1996

Shown at New York International Festival of Lesbian and Gay Film June 7-23, 1991.

Released in United States 1963

Released in United States on Video May 11, 1994

Released in United States June 1991 (Shown at New York International Festival of Lesbian and Gay Film June 7-23, 1991.)

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Best of the Indies" September 5-15, 1996.)