Original Japanese release poster
|Directed by||Kazuaki Kiriya|
|Produced by||Kazuaki Kiriya
|Written by||Kazuaki Kiriya
|Music by||Akihiko Matsumoto|
|Edited by||Kazuaki Kiriya
|Distributed by||Shochiku Co., Ltd.
Warner Bros. Japan
Goemon (五右衛門 Goemon?) is a 2009 Japanese historical fantasy film written and directed by Kazuaki Kiriya. It is loosely based on the story of Ishikawa Goemon, a legendary outlaw hero who stole valuables from the rich and gave them to the poor. The film is a fictional account of Goemon's exploits and his role during the final phase of Sengoku period, particularly the period leading up to the decisive Battle of Sekigahara. Like Kiriya's previous film, Casshern, Goemon was filmed on a digital backlot, and made use of over 2,500 visual effects.
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As a child, Ishikawa Goemon's (Yōsuke Eguchi) entire family was assassinated for political reasons. His mother (Ryo) sent Goemon away for safety minutes before he witnessed her death. Running away with his caretaker, they were attacked by bandits but he was saved by the great Nobunaga Oda (Hashinosuké Nakamura). Goemon followed Nobunaga and Hattori Hanzō (Susumu Terajima) was assigned to train him in the ways of the shinobi (ninja) along with his martial brother, Saizō (Takao Osawa).
After many years of training, Goemon was assigned to protect Oda's niece, Princess Chacha (Ryōko Hirosue). They developed feelings for each other, but status differences kept them apart and eventually she departed. Before leaving, Chacha gave Goemon her favourite fan as a memento. Oda rewarded Goemon's faithful protection of Chacha by giving him his double-bladed sword. Meanwhile, Oda's generals, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Eiji Okuda) and Akechi Mitsuhide (Kazuaki Kiriya), conspired to kill Nobunaga. The two made a secret written covenant, placing their signatures onto a black scroll. Mitsuhide, not trusting Hideyoshi, had his men hide the contract. After assassinating Nobunaga, Hideyoshi betrayed and killed Mitsuhide, took credit for slaying Nobunaga's killer and became the next ruler of Japan. With Nobunaga dead, the two young ninjas parted ways for different pursuits: Saizo hopes to be elevated to Samurai status and chose to remain in service to Nobunaga house, but Goemon chose to leave and be free. As a parting gift, Goemon broke his double-bladed sword in two and gave one-half to Saizo.
Years later, Goemon became a master thief and something of a Robin Hood. Sarutobi Sasuke (Gori), an inexperienced bounty hunter, tried to arrest Goemon, but failed and became his private servant instead. During a festival, Goemon infiltrated and robbed a treasure repository that contained a mysterious box with foreign writing on it. Ishida Mitsunari (Jun Kaname), a high-ranking samurai under Lord Hideyoshi, tried to retrieve this box to destroy it, but Goemon escaped with it, leaving behind only his calling card: a red sticker with the Japanese character "Go" on it. Goemon, unaware of the value of the box, threw it away and distributed the gold to the poor. A young pick-pocket, Koheita, picked up the mysterious box and kept it as a memento. The following day, Goemon learned of the box's value from Sasuke. Intrigued by the box, Goemon returned to the city to find it. Searching around the slums for the box, Goemon heard a scream and finds Koheita and his mother, who had just been callously murdered by cruel and petty local samurai. Goemon saved Koheita and retrieved the box, but also took Koheita under his wing.
Saizo and his ninja squad, working for Mitsunari, appeared and confronted Goemon. Refusing to turn over the box, Goemon fled and was pursued by Saizo's ninjas. Goemon evaded all of his pursuers except Saizo, who remained close behind him. In a showdown between the former brothers, Saizo informed him that the box Goemon carried was referred to as a "Pandora's Box" by foreigners, and the two engaged in a duel. After Goemon was overpowered and about to be killed by Saizo, Hattori Hanzo appeared and intervened, causing Saizo to withdraw. After returning to the city, Goemon examined the "empty box" and discovered a map to a mysterious treasure. Following the map, Goemon and Sasuke were led to the destroyed Buddha statue where Akechi Mitsuhide had hidden his contract with Hideyoshi. Goemon became angry once he learned that Hideyoshi was involved with Nobunaga's death. Hattori Hanzo then reappeared, under the command of Tokugawa Ieyasu (Masatō Ibu). Hanzo offered his old student a bag of gold for the contract, which Goemon readily agrees to. Seeking vengeance for his murdered lord, Goemon infiltrated Lord Hideyoshi's castle, where he killed Lord Hideyoshi and discovered Princess Chacha. Startled by another person entering, Goemon hid himself in the ceiling of Chacha's room, losing Chacha's fan as he did so. To Goemon's surprise, the real Hideyoshi entered the room. Goemon had only killed his fake double. Suddenly, one of Lord Hideyoshi's guards discovered Goemon and shot him in the chest, blowing him out of the castle and into the moat. Later, Goemon was secretly rescued and recovered by Saizo.
Goemon was then contacted by Hanzo, who took him to a waterfall to meet Chacha. The princess had come to bid him farewell and returned the fan as she had reluctantly agreed to become Hideyoshi's concubine. Afterwards, Lord Tokugawa arrived to ask Goemon to assassinate Hideyoshi in order to save Chacha and the country. Elsewhere, Lord Mitsunari offered Saizo samurai status in return for killing Lord Hideyoshi. Goemon and Lord Tokugawa crafted a plan to assassinate Lord Hideyoshi during a celebration on his royal boat, but upon receiving his secret signal, Goemon changed his mind and did not complete the plan. Moments later, all of Lord Hideyoshi's escort ships were destroyed by explosives set by Saizo and his team; they captured Lord Hideyoshi and tried to assassinate him by hanging him from the ship's mast with a steel chain. Lord Mitsunari, believing Lord Hideyoshi to be dead, then turned on Saizo and shot him. However, Lord Hideyoshi survived the assassination attempt and Saizo survived the gunshot wound. Lord Hideyoshi, unaware of Lord Mitsunari's betrayal, interrogated Saizo and threatened to kill Saizo's family unless he revealed who hired him.
Meanwhile, Goemon tried to rescue Chacha, but because Lord Hideyoshi was still alive, she refused to leave. Later, against Sasuke's warnings, Goemon rescued Saizo from prison. Unfortunately, Lord Mitsunari killed Saizo's wife in reprisal and left a note on her body telling Saizo he had taken Saizo's child. Saizo was later recaptured and Lord Hideyoshi decreed Saizo should be boiled to death during an elaborate public execution. Hideyoshi told Saizo he would spare his child's life if he would reveal his name so he falsely identified himself as Goemon. Yelling in the huge crowd, Goemon tried to stop the execution but he could only watch in horror as Lord Hideyoshi kicked Saizo into the cauldron and then threw in the child. Sasuke, in shock over all of the carnage, blamed on Goemon and abandoned him.
With the help of Saizo's surviving team, Goemon stormed through the palace and eventually reached Lord Hideyoshi. Goemon wanted to know why Lord Hideyoshi had betrayed Lord Nobunaga. Hideyoshi explained it was his insatiable hunger for power that had driven him and Goemon eventually killed him. With Hideyoshi dead, there was a power vacuum that the strongest fought for. Tokugawa and Mitsunari raised their own armies to decide who would be the next ruler of Japan; but Goemon, tired of all the deaths and suffering, decided to intervene.
Goemon charged into the battle, wearing Lord Nobunaga's armor and carrying the repaired double-bladed sword. The armies were fearful and confused as they saw the crimson armor of Nobunaga. Goemon fought through the armies until he confronted and killed Mitsunari during a solar eclipse. Superstitious over the eclipse, Mitsunari's army fled in fear. Goemon then charged through Tokugawa's army, but Hattori Hanzo appeared and intercepted him mid-way. Goemon immobilized his former master by pinning Hanzo's foot to the ground with a broken sword blade. Approaching Tokugawa, Goemon closed the distance seemingly with apparent intent to kill, but was intercepted by Sasuke (who had joined Tokugawa's army). Mortally wounded by Sasuke, Goemon staggered and it was revealed that he was only holding Chacha's fan; instead of trying to kill Tokugawa, Goemon only planned to get him to promise that there would finally be peace and then leave. Goemon tries to make his way back to Chacha, but falls to the ground from his wounds. In his final moments, he admires the fireflies and stars while Chacha cries, never to see Goemon again.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2012)|
|Character||Japanese actor||English dubbing|
|Ishikawa Goemon||Yōsuke Eguchi||Travis Willingham|
|Young Goemon||Tokimasa Tanabe||????|
|Kirigakure Saizō||Takao Osawa||Troy Baker|
|Young Saizō||Takeru Satoh||????|
|Young Chacha||Mayuko Fukuda||????|
|Sarutobi Sasuke||Gori||Todd Haberkorn|
|Toyotomi Hideyoshi||Eiji Okuda||Christopher Sabat|
|Akechi Mitsuhide||Kazuaki Kiriya||????|
|Ishida Mitsunari||Jun Kaname||????|
|Tokugawa Ieyasu||Masatō Ibu||Kent Williams|
|Oda Nobunaga||Hashinosuké Nakamura||????|
|Hattori Hanzō||Susumu Terajima||????|
|Rikyū Sen||Mikijirō Hira||????|
English dubbing staff
The film was nominated to the Asian Film Awards in 2010 in the categories Best Costume Designer (Vaughan Alexander and Tina Kalivas) and Best Visual Effects (Takuya Fujita and Kôji Nozaki).
According to Twitch Film, "Goemon is going to be a divisive film ... It fits in well with their live action catalog of films like Shinobi: Heart Under Blade and yet it feels like a live action anime." According to a DVD Verdict review by Paul Pritchard, Goemon "entertains with its combination of imaginative visuals and exciting action sequences, but leaves you wanting for more". The Blu-ray Disc version was "highly recommended" by Blu-ray.com.
The soundtrack to Goemon, composed by Akihiko Matsumoto, was released in Japan on April 22, 2009, by Columbia Music Entertainment. The movie's theme song, "Rosa -Movie Mix-" by Violet UK, was released on iTunes seven days later on April 29, 2009.