Sukedachiya Sukeroku (2002)

Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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Veteran filmmaker Kihachi Okamoto revives his similarly named 1960s television series about happy-go-lucky avenger-for-hire Sukeroku (Hiroyuki Sanada) who prefers to brandish a wooden pole or a rope rather than a sword. The film opens with Sukeroku returning to his home in the mountainous Joshu region after a seven-year absence to visit his mother's grave. He quickly encounters not only old flame Osen (Kyoka Suzuki) -- who is still clearly in love with him -- but also his boyhood rival Taro (Takehiro Murata) -- who tells him that local samurai Katakura (film legend Tatsuya Nakadai) is the target of revenge. Sukeroku tries to get hired as one of the avengers but is told that four professionals have already been hired for the job. When the dignified Katakura meets his fate, Sukeroku begins to plot revenge on a more personal note.