Makai tenshô (Samurai Resurrection) (2003)



Director:     Hideyuki Hirayama.

Starring:     Yôsuke Kubozuka (Amakusa Shiro Tokisada), Kumiko Aso (Clara Oshina), Tetta Sugimoto (Lord Tokugawa Yorinobu), Tomoka Kurotani (Ohiro), Kazue Fukiishi (Ohina), Kazuya Takahashi (Date Kosaburo), Masaya Katô (Araki Mataemon), Kyozo Nagatsuka (Miyamoto Musashi), Kôichi Satô (Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi).    

the Shimabara Rebellion of mostly Christian peasants,1637–1638, during the Tokugawa era against rising taxes


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

The Shimabara Uprising, 1638.  The battle lasted for three months.  The Christian religion was denounced by the Japanese government and the Christians were ruthlessly taxed and starving.  They rose in rebellion.  A total of 120,000 Tokugawa Shogun soldiers were thrown against the castle.  The soldiers kill Christian soldiers but also civilians. 

A group of Tokugawa soldiers come into a place of worship and the fight is on.  They kill all but the Christian leader.  The Tokugawa leader says he is Jinno Sukezaemon and he serves Lord Hosokawa of Etchu.  Now he is face to face with the leader of the rebellion, Amakusa Shiro Tokisada.  He teases the Christian by telling him to show them the power of his God.  For some inexplicable reason, Jinno suddenly starts killing and doesn't stop until all the soldiers with him are killed.  He then lops off the head of the Christian leader.  He then cuts his own throat with his blade.  A young wounded Christian woman puts the rosary in the hands of the deceased Christian leader. 

With the finish of the battle, the Tokugawa government ordered the killing of 37,000 men, women and children.  The hand of the Christian rleader aises up. 

Matsudaira-Nobutsuna, Elder Councilor, Lord of Izu and Yagyu Munenori, Chief Inspector, Lord of Tajima, talk together about the Battle of Shimabara.  It was too long and too hard, but now maybe they will have some peace.  The age of war has past.  Tokugawa now rules the entire land of Japan.  Izu tells Tajima that he now has the task of overseeing the barons.  By the way, he remarks, it is rumored that Miyamoto Musashi was at Shimabara.  He was at one time one of the greatest swordsmen of Japan, along with Tajima, but now he is a masterless samurai.  Both men agree that the era of the sword is now over. 

A decade later.  Tokugawa Yorinobu, Great Councilor Kishu, the son of the first Tokugawa Shogun Ieyasu and uncle to the third and reigning Shogun Iemitsu.  He is out hunting.  A white pheasant, a good omen, is spotted and Yorinobu rides after it.  He shoots at the white pheasant and then sees perhaps a demon carrying the dead bird down to earth.   And from behind him comes a pretty Japanese woman dressed in fine robes.  The demon pulls the arrow out of the white pheasant and it flies away.  The demon identifies himself as Amakusa Shiro Tokisada.  Yorinobu says that can't be since Shiro is dead.  The demon says so I was, but here I am.   

At night the Great Councilor arrives.  The pretty woman demon takes him up to a house in the mountains.  Shiro raises a half naked woman from the dead.  The woman opens her eyes but says she cannot see or move.  But her body is transformed into a samurai warrior.  The pretty demon tells Yorinobu that the man is Araki Mataemon, slayer of 36 men at Locksmith's Corner.  He is a Yagyu master of the sword.  His body is restored, but his soul is that of a devil.  He will kill all enemies of Yorinobu.  Amasuka explains that he has abandoned Christianity.  The pretty demon tells Yorinobu that by the will of his father Ieyasu was that he was supposed to have succeeded to one of the wealthiest domains of Suruga, but he was shut away in Kishu.  The Shogun greatly fears the power of Yorinobu.  Yorinobu asks how can he become the ruler of all under heaven and earth? 

Village of Yagyu.  A school of swordsmanship.  Women and men practice sword fighting with wooden sticks.  Two young fellows are playing a board game and are scolded by the Squire.  The Squire is especially disappointed in the one man who is the eldest son of Lord Yagyu of Tajima and was sent to this school from Edo (the future Tokyo).  Squire has come for his granddaughters, Ohiro and Ohina.  Lord Makino, Senior Retainer of his clan, says that Councilor Yorinobu of Kishu wishes to see them.  All three men want to know why Yorinobu wants to see the two young women. 

Enshoji Temple, Kishu Domain.  Yorinobu tells Kimura not to worry about his two granddaughters because they are safe with them.  They will take charge of them. 

An old man races his horse along the road.  On the back of his horse a young woman hold onto his waist tightly.  She has been hit in the back with an arrow.  Suddenly, she falls off the horse.  She is Ohina.  Her grandfather returns for her.  He puts her on the horse and tells her to ride to Yagyu.  She rides off.  Kimura Sukekuro of Kishu now stands to confront the man chasing them.  The man arrives and gets off his horse to face Kimura.  Ohina reaches the swordsmanship school and the young men grab her off her horse.  All of a sudden men dressed in white shoot and kill with arrows a number of the young men. Then the archers suddenly run away.  And down the road comes the mysterious swordsman dragging what is probably the boy of grandfather. 

The students confront none other than Mataemon.  But, say the students, he's supposed to be dead.  He says he has come back from the demon realm.  Mataemon also says he has come only to kill Jubei, who happens to be a very big fellow.  Jubei rushes into a sword fight.  Montaemon says he can send his own body to wherever he wills it.  At this the other students jump into the fight to save Jubei.  One of the students delivers a sword blow that would kill an ordinary man, but it doesn't phase Montaemon.  Montaemon, however, looses an arm in the fight.  Nevertheless, he continues killing the students, until Jubei shouts for him to stop it.  Montaemon says they will meet again, but without anyone to interfere with their fight.  He walks away from the school. 

Jubei asks Ohina what happened?  She says she and her sister were only two of many daughters of retainers who Lord Makino had gathered together.  The women were kept like prisoners.  Her grandfather got suspicious.  All of a sudden she says:  "They are resurrecting demons from the dead."  The women are used as human sacrifices to the demons.  Jubei says the will go to Kishu to speak to the Great Councilor about this. 

Montaemon returns to Shiro and his woman demon and asks them for another arm.  Shiro asks him if he will obey, or will he have to send Montaemon back to hell?  Montaemon refuses to die for Shiro, so the latter shoves a sword through his neck.  The man's body just disappears in a big splash of small parts. 

The pretty woman demon appears in the cell of Ohiro.  She tells Ohiro that the bones of a dead man will be buried into her body.  The dead man inside her will feed on her entrails and grow within her body.  Then when she is all eaten out inside, her body will disappear.  Ohiro tells the demon that she will return alive to her Yagyu home. 

Yagyu House, Edo.  Inshun of the Hozoin Temple comes to pay a visit.  An older man, the father of Jubei, Lord Tajima, tells his visitor that Jubei has been sent to the country.  Jubei made a silly move and knocked the Shogun out during practice training.  Inshun says he wants to duel with Jubei.  The father says he will stand in for his son.  The two men duel and the father demonstrates how easy it would be for his son to kill him.  He spares the life of the visitor. 

Inshun goes down to a waterfall to sharpen his fighting skills.  The she demon appears before him.  She wants to make a deal with him by showing him the secrets of the spear, in return for abandoning Buddha and his laws.  Inshun is insulted at her offer.  She tells him to break the religious law and stab her with his spear.  He does so, but it doesn't affect her.  He thrusts again at her and now she turns herself into a small girl who falls dead from the stab wounds.  Now he sees Shiro and the devil woman.  He calls them devils. 

Shiro and the devil woman tell the Great Councilor that Inshun made a deal with them.  He has given his life in trade for being unequaled with the spear.  And now the two devils offer a deal to the Great Councilor, but he tells them that they ask too much of him. 

Yagyu Jubei arrives.  (His guards kill a number of the Great Councilor's guards.)  He tells Inshun and all others of the house that a certain clan has made a deal with the devil.  Inshun asks Jubei what does all this have to do with him and his Kishu domain?  Meanwhile, Jubei's comrades free Ohiro from the jail.  Jubei warns His Highness not to be caught up in this evil or his punishment will be great.  Just as the guards are about to fight Jubei, the shout goes up about "intruders!"  The guards fight Jubei's comrades, along with the two sisters. 

Jubei leaves but runs into Shiro.  Shiro shows him a picture of hell.  He also says that the Tokugawa will be sinking into the flames of hell and chaos will reign.  Shiro then disappears as Jubei tries to split him in half with his sword.  Shiro now appears before Jubei's father to offer him immortality.  Lord Tajiwa says he would like his strength back. 

A message arrives for Yorinobu saying Shogun Iemitus is critically ill.   His heir, Ietsuna, is only six years old.  If the two of them die, chaos would reign in the land. 

Wakayama Castle, Kishu.  Yorinobu decides to go to Edo.  He moves out with 1,300 samurai and a total of 3,000 men.  The students of the school watch the procession.  They move along in the same direction.  Then they run into Inshun and his demon spear.  He is after Jubei, but all those with him including Ohiro attack Inshun.  He easily dispatches the men.  Inshun says that one of the women Jubei has with him killed herself by biting through her tongue and has been resurrected.  She is a demon too!  The two men fight.  Jubei cuts off the tip of Inshun's spear and then stabs Inshun with his sword.  Inshun is still alive, but he grabs the tip of the spear and commits hara-kiri with it.  His body disappears. 

Shiro shows up to recruit Jubei.  Jubei responds that he will kill every Demon he sees.  Shiro says Yagyu is one of those who have been resurrected.  He then leaves.

Jubei realizes that the demon lied.  Ohiro has not changed.  She is still Ohiro.  Ohiro now asks Jubei to kill her if she ever becomes a demon.  Only if, says Jubei. 

Kakegawa Kishu Headquarters.  It is said 500,000 masterless samurai are gathered in Edo to support the triumph of Kishu.  Shiro shows up to tell Yorinobu not so fast.  He cannot triumph without the help of the demons.  Shiro tells Yorinobu that they expected him to kill the Shogun.  Yorinobu  will not, so Shiro says then he will not do anything more of them.  Shiro tells his assistant that Yorinobu is not the only  Tokugawa who can kill the Shogun.

Memorial Shrine to Shogbun Ieyasu.  The she devil places a dish by the shrine. 

The Kishu party has stopped at Sunpu. Jubei and the other ride on. 

Sunpu Castle.  Elder Councilor Izu tells Yorinobu that no one is to disobey the late Shogun Ieyasu's rules.  No action is allowed without official permission.  Izu also tells Yorinobu that the thousands of masterless samurai have already been dealt with.  If Yorinobu insists on continuing he will have to do so incognito and his soldiers will have to leaves their weapons behind in the castle.  Yorinobu looks furious with Izu. 

Jubei and four others ride through the countryside.  A darkness comes over the land.  The five walk through the marshes.  One of Jubei's men is killed while in the marshes.  A second man is killed, but by what?  Then Miyamoto Musashi makes his appearance in the form of Lord Tajima.   Only the two sisters are now with Jubei.  He tells them to get back.  The fight slowly starts.  Ohiro decides to rush in and help and gets wounded.

Ohiro now jumps into the fight revealing in her eyes that she is a demon.  Jubei is wounded in his right shoulder.  Musashi is about to kill Jubei when Ohiro stabs him from behind saying she is taking his demon life with her own demon life.  Musashi pulls out her sword and throws it at Ohiro hitting her in the chest and down she goes.  Musashi raises his sword for the kill and disintegrates into thousands of pieces.  Jubei rushes over to Ohiro just in time to see her disintegrate too.  Her sister comes over and tells Jubei that Ohiro only wanted to be with him.  Jubei says they are going on to Edo.  He is going to kill someone there. 

Yorinobu shouts to the she devil that he needs Shiro's powers.  She tells him that it was he who said he didn't need their help.  Yorinobu says:  "Damn your insolence!"  She says he should end his life right here.  She then shows that she has the upside down cross marked on her chest to indicate that she carries a dead man lodged in her body ready for resurrection.  She devil says she will kill Iemitsu and then the rest of the remaining Tokugawas will kill each other in an orgy of blood. 

The body inside now comes out of the she devil and that it is Ieyasu himself, the God of this shrine, and father to Yorinobu.  Ieyasu now kills Yorinobu.   

The she devil is still alive.  Shiro finishes her off with a short bladed sword.  Now he goes to Edo.  So now both he and Jubei are heading to Edo.  Shiro descends from the sky to the death watch over the Shogun.  It starts really raining hard and the wind becomes very strong.  Lightning hits the pagoda-like castle and splits it down one side.  The castle collapses onto itself.  Shiro comes to the Emperor.  Jubei arrives at the castle.  Jubei's father, now just another demon, is there to greet him.  The two men fight.  Jubei is able to kill his demon father with only a small side wound. 

With the present Shogun is Ieyasu, the grandfather.  Ieyasu starts to kill his grandson to end the reign of the Tokugawas, but Jubei sticks his sword through granddad in through one cheek and out the other.  The demon dies and then disintegrates.  Jubei grabs his sword.  Now only Shiro remains.  They fight.  Shiro wounds Jubei in the left shoulder and starts pushing the end of the sword to make it go through Jubei's body.  Jubei pushes the sword back and Shiro does a flip over Jubei's kneeling body.   Jubei stands up as Shiro hovers over Jubei and Jubei pushes the sword through his shoulder and into Shiro. 

The men stand together for quite awhile. Then Jubei pulls the sword out of his shoulder and Shiroa disintegrates. 

Jubei sees a small  cross moving on the floor.  He grabs his sword to be ready to defend himself and others against any other demons. 


There is history in this movie, but the use of demons threw me off some.  And the leader of the Christian rebellion in Japan is made the head demon.  In real life the Japanese Christian peasants regarded their leader as a virtual Jesus Christ and it was said he performed many miracles.  So why make him a demon?   I guess you have to read the book.  Anyway, the hero is made a devil, supposedly because he turned against the God of the Christians because his prayers weren't answered during the Shimbara Rebellion. 

A lot of the historical characters are mentioned in the special feature disc as covered below.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


1603–1605 --  rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the 280 year long Tokugawa shogunate.   

Tajima-no-Kami Munenori Yagyu was an advisor to three generations of Tokugawa shoguns starting with Ieyasu.  He was a swordsman and politician.  He was a teacher to shoguns Ieyasu, Hidetada and Iemitsu in fighting.  His first son was Jubei Yagyu, one of Japan's best swordsmen. 

1605–1623  --  rule of Tokugawa Hidetada. 

1612--   Musashi Miyamoto has a duel with Kojiro Sasaki at Ganryu Island.  He smashed Kojiro's forehead with a wooden sword. 

1615  --  Osaka Summer Battle.  Tajima-no-Kami Yagyu is rewarded for killing seven samurai.  In the same battle the Toyotomi family is ruined. 

1616  --  Ieyasu dies at Sunpu Castle.  Yorinobu Tokugawa is the heir to the lord of the Sunpu Castle.

1623-1641  --  rule of Tokugawa Iemitsu.  His swordsmanship instructor was Jubei Yagyu. 

1623  --  birth of Shiro Amakusa. 

1626  --  Jubei Yagyu resigns as Iemitsu's swordsmanship instructor.  He leaves Edo at the age of 20 to go back to Yagyu Village.  He trained many disciples (some say over 13,000 of them).  He died at age 40. 

1633  --  the shogunate issues a Sakoku-rei (National Seclusion Policy).  There is severe persecution of Christians.  Some Christians were wrapped in straw and burned to death.

1634  --  Mataemon Araki (trained under Jubei Yagyu) helps his brother-in-law avenge the killing of his brother by Matagoro Kawai.  It was said that Mataemon killed 36 of the enemy. 

               Inshun of Hozoin Temple, who found with a spear invented by his father, had a match with Musashi Miyamoto, who fought with two swords.     

1637  --  Shimbara Rebellion  --  the largest rebellion in Japanese history.  Christian peasants revolt against heavy taxation and persecution.  The leader of the rebellion, Amakusa Shiro, is only 16 years old.  He became a figure like Jesus Christ to the peasants.  It was said that he performed many miracles. 

Tokugawa Shogunate sends a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebellion. 

General Nobutsuna Matsudaira cuts off the food supply to the castle. 

1638  --  after a lengthy siege against Hara Castle, the Tokugawa forces win the day in February.  Rebel leader Amakusa Shiro is beheaded.  Also beheaded are the estimated 37,000 rebels and sympathizers.  Hara Castle was burned to the ground.  Persecution of Christianity continues until the 1850s.

1639 --  Iemitsu officially closes off Japan from the rest of the world.


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