Cast & Crew
In 1862 the Tokugawa Shogunate, under both domestic and foreign pressures, concludes treaties with the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands, which open Japan to foreign trade and visitors. Supporters of the Emperor see this event as a signal for them to overthrow the Shogunate and restore the Emperor to the throne. Hampeita Takechi, leader of the Tosa clan, one of the three patriotic clans working against the Shogunate, is a ruthless leader who will stop at nothing to secure his own power. To this end, he retains a killer, Izo Okada, who blindly follows his every order, to the point that he is arrested for over-zealousness in getting rid of his boss's rivals. In prison Izo reconsiders his devotion to Hampeita, and upon his release he confesses all to the authorities in the hope that justice will be served. So complete is Hampeita's power, however, that Izo is placed in an untenable position and he commits hara-kiri.
Released in Japan in August 1969 as Hitokiri.
Shown in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) as part of program "Days of Snow & Blood: The Films of Hideo Gosha" June 21 - July 13, 1996.
"Heaven's Punishment" was unavailable for public viewing for many years because of the graphic on-screen suicide of novelist/actor Yukio Mishima, which anticipated his own suicide a year later.