The latest film from unclassifiable auteur Takeshi Kitano is an epically bloody, darkly humorous, and surprisingly queer dramatization of one of the most famous political assassinations in Japanese history. A passion project that’s reportedly been in development for three decades, Kubi takes place in the late 16th Century, as Japan is in the midst of a bloody civil war between rival warlords. Ruthless Nobunaga Oda (Ryo Kase) is close to consolidating all of Japan under one rule but must fend off competing clans and backstabbing vassals to do so. One of these vassals, Murashige Araki (Kenichi Endo), attempts a coup and disappears when the rebellion goes humiliatingly awry. Nobunaga forces the other men in his court—including Murashige’s lover Mitsuhide (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and wily Hideyoshi (Kitano)—to catch the rogue, promising to name whomever prevails as his successor. What follows is a wild and bloody series of double-crossings, political maneuverings, and many, many beheadings, all leading up to a showdown at the infamous Honnō-ji temple. Boldly taking on a well-known chapter of Japanese history and adding his own bizarre twist, Kitano’s historical epic feels both deeply researched and wickedly irreverent.
CAST: Takeshi Beat, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Ryo Kase
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