ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Review: The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail

Updated on November 17, 2011

rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Before directing The Hidden Fortress, which would go on to inspire Star Wars, Akira Kurosawa directed a different tale of royalty escaping through enemy lines in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail.

The story is set against a historical background in the late Heian period of Japan. Yoshitsune has had a falling out with his brother, Yoritomo, the shogun (generalissimo). Fearing for his life, Yoshitsune and his loyal retainers, led by Benkei, and their unsuspecting porter are attempting to flee to the north disguised as priests. They come to an obstacle when they find their path is barricaded by Yoritomo's forces, led by Togashi (Susumu Fujita, Sugata Sanshiro). Being hopelessly outnumbered, the men must rely on their wits, rather than violence, to pass the barrier.

Even though there is no violence in this samurai film, the movie is filled with suspense, thanks largely to the strength of the script and Kurosawa's direction. The movie is an enlightening portrayal of extreme Japanese values. These values can be seen in the contrast between the samurai and the porter. Yoshitsune's retainers are stoic and intensely loyal to their lord. The porter is foolish and speaks with a loose tongue. In their behavior, the samurai and the retainer are keeping in line with the expectations of their respective castes. While the samurai are the highest class in the feudal system, their status comes with expectations of strict piety. Even though the porter is limited in his social mobility, he is not held to the same standards as the samurai.

Filmed in 1945, The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail was banned by the Occupying Forces for its portrayal of feudal values. The movie was finally released in 1952, after sovereignty was returned to Japan.

There are many parallels with Kurosawa's later epic, The Hidden Fortress. Both are about samurai sneaking through enemy lines. Both use porters as comic relief. The princess in The Hidden Fortress and Yoshitsune in The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail both have to wear a disguise to hide their high breeding.

At 59 minutes, this is a short movie. It feels like one act of a longer film. Kenichi Enomoto, a famous comedian at the time, provides welcome comic relief as the porter. But his performance is a bit over-the-top, and seems a bit more suited for another film. The way the samurai interact with him, however, provides a humanizing effect on the characters.

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail is an early gem in Kurosawa's catalog.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Eric Mikols profile image

      Eric Mikols 

      6 years ago from New England

      I actually thought the humor in this movie played better than some of Kurosawa's other movies. I liked this and it had good moments, but the last ten minutes were painful to get through. It would have been interesting to see this movie remade later but it's an interesting film.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)