Set around the end of Japan's feudal period, during that country's equivalent of the Wars of the Roses -- about 1580 -- "Kagemusha" tells the story of the Shingen clan. Clan leader Shingen Takeda is such a superior general that the clan's relatively small numbers can never be defeated by larger armies as long as he lives. His closest advisors keep his death a secret for three years, and employ a poor thief who closely resembles Shingen as a double in the great general's place. ("Kagemusha" means "shadow warrior.") The thief naturally has trouble with the role, but grows into it somewhat. Eventually rival clans divine the truth and, no longer useful, the shadow warrior is cast out by the Shingen clan. He witnesses (and identifies with) its destruction. In a powerful climax, director Akira Kurosawa portrays the transition from traditional to modern warfare: a line of horses is mowed down by a fusillade of gunfire. Visually sumptuous but slow-moving and not particularly character-driven or dramatic, this film may not be to the average Western viewer's taste, but it is a gorgeous and moving work of art nonetheless.
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus