Watch Kagemusha

"The Shadow of a man can never stand up and walk on its own"
  • PG
  • 1980
  • 2 hr 39 min
  • 7.9  (37,842)
  • 84

In the year 1980, the world was introduced to the critically acclaimed and visually stunning masterpiece, 'Kagemusha'. Directed and co-written by the legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, the film is a historical epic that captures the essence of feudal Japan during the 16th century. The movie stars an ensemble cast led by Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara, and Jinpachi Nezu, among others.

'Kagemusha' follows the story of a petty thief who is hired by a powerful warlord named Shingen Takeda (Nakadai) to impersonate him and act as his double. Shingen fears for his life and believes that having a doppelganger will protect him from assassination attempts by his rivals. The thief, known only as 'Kagemusha' (meaning 'shadow warrior' in Japanese), agrees to the job and is trained to mimic Shingen's mannerisms and behavior.

However, things take a dramatic turn when Shingen dies suddenly on the battlefield during a crucial battle against a rival clan. The Takeda clan needs to keep Shingen's death a secret to prevent chaos and infighting among their ranks. The Kagemusha is forced to continue in the role of Shingen to maintain order and avoid any repercussions of his death being revealed.

As the story unfolds, we witness the Kagemusha's transformation from a common thief to a respected leader who must navigate the treacherous world of politics, warfare, and social hierarchies. He struggles to keep up with the demands of the role and cope with the guilt of deceiving the people who trusted him. Meanwhile, Shingen's family members, retainers, and enemies plot their own agendas, which threaten to unravel the fragile peace that Shingen had maintained.

'Kagemusha' is a visually stunning film that showcases the mastery of Kurosawa's direction and his collaboration with cinematographer Takao Saitô. The film's opening sequence alone is a marvel of filmmaking, as we see thousands of soldiers marching and preparing for battle amid a backdrop of misty mountains and a blood-red sun. Kurosawa's use of light, shadow, color, and movement create a vivid and immersive atmosphere that transports the viewer into Japan's turbulent past.

The cast of 'Kagemusha' delivers powerful and nuanced performances that enhance the film's themes of identity, loyalty, and legacy. Nakadai, in particular, gives a tour-de-force performance as both Shingen and his Kagemusha, showcasing his range as an actor and his ability to convey complex emotions with subtle gestures and expressions. Yamazaki and Hagiwara, who play Shingen's son and grandson, respectively, also shine in their roles as up-and-coming leaders who struggle to live up to Shingen's legacy while dealing with the pressures of leadership.

Apart from its technical and artistic achievements, 'Kagemusha' is also a thought-provoking film that raises questions about the nature of power, truth, and identity. The Kagemusha's experiences challenge the notion that leadership is based solely on innate qualities such as charisma, courage, or intelligence. Instead, the film suggests that one's position in society is largely determined by the perceptions and beliefs of others, which can be influenced and manipulated by those in power. The Kagemusha's fate also raises questions about the morality of deception, as he struggles with the consequences of his actions and the role that fate plays in determining one's destiny.

In conclusion, 'Kagemusha' is a cinematic masterpiece that continues to captivate and inspire audiences over four decades after its release. Its blend of historical accuracy, visual spectacle, and philosophical depth make it a timeless work that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. Kurosawa's vision and the performances of the cast make 'Kagemusha' a must-see film for anyone interested in the art of cinema and the human condition.

Kagemusha is a 1980 action movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 39 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.9 and a MetaScore of 84.

Where to Watch Kagemusha
Kagemusha is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at FuboTV, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Kagemusha for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 39 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.9  (37,842)
  • Metascore