Today: July 19, 2024

The Fall of Ako Castle

Western literature has The Legend of Thermopylae — the tale of 300 spartans whose their heroic last stand against the Persian army, has inspired generations of storytellers.
The Far East has the epic tale of the 47 ronin, in which a band of lordless samurai, set out to avenge the death of their master.

Like Thermopylae, the  events surrounding the story of the 47 ronin — which were epic enough to begin with — have taken on mythical proportions, being immortalised in song, literature, and theatre. Indeed, some of the very first dramatisations were kabuki and bunraku plays, written within weeks of the events.

However, of all the retellings of this historic, blood-soaked story, Kinji Fukasaku’s The Fall of Ako Castle, is arguably the most compelling.

When an injustice costs his master his life and estate, loyal retainer Ōishi (Kinnosuke Yorozuya, Bushido) vows revenge. Because the target of his vengeance is protected by the ruling shōgunate, any retaliation would be seen as an act of treason. Ōishi assembles the remaining ranks of the now-masterless samurai and 47 of them pledge a blood oath to avenge their slain lord. Tensions rise among the ranks of the ronin eager to launch the mission, as Ōishi bides his time awaiting the right time to strike. Enemy spies and assassins track Ōishi, who has seemingly fallen into vice. But has he lost his sense of honour, or is it just a part of his plan?

Fukasaku’s The Fall of Ako Castle has it all. This is a moving, action-packed story, with complex characters, in which the nuances of loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice explode into brutal samurai carnage.

Eureka’s latest Masters of Cinema release presents The Fall of Ako Castle on blu-ray for the first time in the UK, in a spectacular 1080p HD from a restoration of the original film elements.

Additional extras include:

  • An O-card slipcase with new artwork by Chris Malbon (first 2,000 print run only).
  • Uncompressed original Japanese Mono audio.
  • Optional English subtitles.
  • New audio commentary by critic Tom Mes.
  • New interview with asian film expert Tony Rayns.
  • New video essay by author and critic Jasper Sharp.
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork.
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Clements.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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