Charles Bronson and Toshirō Mifune team up in this Samurai Spaghetti Western

Viewed through the lens of pop culture, it can sometimes seem like the Spaghetti Western genre begins and ends with. Sergio Leone. The same view can also reduce the samurai type down in the work Akira Kurosawa. Not being completely defined by two masters of cinema is a bad thing, but those types of associations can gather more quality work and limit the “acceptable” parameters of a genre. It is also possible to see the overlap, and Westerners of all stripes have a surprising relationship with the samurai image. John Ford Kurosawa inspired, Kurosawa inspired Leone (among other things), and changing tastes in the 1970s produced a number of hybrid texts that combined Western elements with Asian martial arts if not specifically samurai. There is Shrimp with David Carradine on a small screen. Very famous Billy Jack And its very dubious consequences. And there is the Franco-Italian of 1971 Red sun.

If your type of glasses are too tight, Red sun Must seem like a strange movie. It’s a Spaghetti Western starring Charles Bronson – Fair enough, but his co-star is ToshirMifune, and he speaks English. It is the West that devotes significant time to diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan, not only gunmen, cowboys, and Indians (although there are Comanches) or intrigues along the southern border. The villain is played by a Frenchman, the actress is Swiss-German, and at the head is one of the most British British directors, James Bond himself. Terence Young. Very little about Red sun Make sense of the paper, including the circumstances behind its production. But underneath it all, it’s a traditional buddy quest full of humor, and it’s a lot of fun.

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Who is the target demographic for ‘Red Sun’?

Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune in Red Sun (1971)
Image via Les Films Corona

Afterthought Red sun It seems to be the same idea behind many international co-productions of the 1960s and 70s: get as many people into the theater as possible by attracting as many distribution territories as possible with international stars. in its subject and production value, Red sun Perhaps aiming a little higher than some of its contemporaries. Plot, credit given Denne Bart Petitclerc, William RobertsAnd Lawrence Roman for the screenplay and Laird Koenig For the story, from the manufacturer Ted Richmond. He told a story about an intrepid samurai visiting America and seeing A movie. Initial preparations began in 1966 with a target release date for the following year.

Toshiro Mifune was the first actor to be cast for the film. At that time in his career, he had 16 collaborations with Kurosawa under his belt and a high reputation in Japan. The success of films such as: RashOman And Seven Samurai Abroad made him a worldwide fan and offers from American, British and European studios. Never learning English, Mifune learned his lines for the project phonetically. in Red sun, that means playing the tough, tough, and dignified Kuroda Jubei, a character that epitomizes samurai heroes as they come. Almost too long for Mifune at that point in his career, and Kuroda was distinguished by his living at the end of the samurai era. If the Meiji Restoration did not begin in 1860 (the year the film takes place), the rapid evolution of Japan into an industrialized country with diplomatic relations with the United States meant that the feudal system that supported the samurai died. Kuroda, the last of the long-time warriors, is resigned to this fate, but determined to honor his legacy by retrieving the stolen ceremonial sword as a gift to Abraham Lincoln.

If Director Young gets his first choice to cast Kuroda’s disc, Link Stuart’s group, Mifune will take it. Red sun Become friends with your own doppelganger. That option is Clint EastwoodThe unnamed Leone man who owes part of the Jojimbo– came A fistful of dollars. But it was not, and Charles Bronson entered the part with long hair and a droopy mustache. Westerns made Bronson’s, Leone’s, careers Once in the West among them. Those same parts made him popular in Japan as well. “One of the ironies is that I made a breakthrough in a film shot in Europe that the Japanese thought was an American film and the Americans thought it was foreign,” he once said.

Eastwood has moments and jokes, and the idea of ​​him and Mifune heading off as friends turned enemies is undeniably satisfying. But if he is asked to reach into his man without a name, it will be there Red sun Without much difference between Link and Kuroda. The nameless star dollar The trilogy is not quite as underhanded as Link is at the beginning of the movie. He is the nogoodnik of the leading pair, a thief betrayed by other thieves who only want his gold (and not to be killed by his samurai prison). But he maintains a sense of humor through the journey after the villain, and along the way, he endears himself to Kuroda and comes to respect and respect the ethics of the samurai. Bronson may not be Mifune’s doppelganger, but he has excellent chemistry with him and sells Link’s arc in a wonderfully subtle way.

How was the production on the set of ‘Red Sun’?

Charles Bronson, Alain Delon, Ursula Andress, and Toshirō Mifune in Red Sun (1971)
Image via Les Films Corona

Bronson and Mifune were hired for Star Power; Young was hired because he knows his way around the action scene and three languages. Japanese is not one of them, but he can talk to Alain Delon In fluent French, the local team in Madrid and Almeria in Spanish, and the Italian counterpart in – well, Italian. He and Bronson still had a working relationship, though Young wanted Eastwood as Link.

1967 proved unworkable for filming. The camera will not turn on Red sun Until 1971, at which time the film went from a project sponsored by Warner Bros. to a joint production between Richmond and Les Films Corona of France, with additional partners from Italy. All that prep time didn’t make the working relationship between Young and Richmond any smoother once filming began. The two are constantly at each other’s heads, and the fight isn’t bad enough to ruin their joint plans. hands in the future.

But if the producer and the director spent time fighting each other, the production went smoothly. Bronson brought his entire family along for the shoot and Mifune traded recipes while cooking for the crew. Young recruited a friend of the James Bond clan Anthony Dawson And Ursula Andress Enter the cast, later Cristina, the female lead (or as close as this male buddy comes to having one) and girlfriend to Delon’s villain. Anyone who squirms at the way Spaghetti Westerns sometimes handle female characters won’t find relief here, and the story can’t decide whether to sympathize or manipulate Cristina. But Andress does well with what she has, and she likes movies and places enough that she bought a house in Spain.

Delon did not buy a house. He is not in constant place, is committed to juggle with France. His villain, Gauche, is a classic mustache twist without the mustache, but he gives Link another counterpoint besides Kuroda. The two had once been co-leaders of the gang, and Link was the unwashed, hairless, weather-beaten, and uglier to look at of the two. But beyond his career, he’s also a likable chap, who seeks redemption through his friendship with Kuroda. A clean, well-dressed, charming, Gauche garment with no redeeming qualities. And Delon’s intense eyes and mischievous smile sell that perfectly. Of course, a standard black hat doesn’t hurt either.

A smooth shoot is not always equal to a great film or even good, but in this case, it was. As strange as it may look on paper, this Spaghetti Western co-starring a Japanese superstar and a French heartthrob as a villain with director James Bond, everything in Red sun Nice gels. The story it tells is straightforward. The mission is clear, the land of Bronson’s humor, the bitter nature of Kuroda’s mission registers, and it all moves quickly, but never speeds up the clip. And while its unique elements may prevent it from being a definitive example of a western film – or a samurai film – they give it a good flavor, worthy of breaking out of strict genre conventions as an example.

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