Hanzo the Razor

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Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice
Hanzo the Razor - Sword of Justice.jpg
Directed by Kenji Misumi
Produced by Shintaro Katsu
Hiroyoshi Nishioka
Written by Kazuo Koike
Kazuo Koike (story)
Takeshi Kanda (story)
Starring Shintaro Katsu
Yukiji Asaoka
Mari Atsumi
Takahiro Tamura
Ko Nishimura
Music by Kunihiko Murai
Cinematography Chishi Makiura
Edited by Yoshiharu Hayashi
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • December 30, 1972 (1972-12-30)
Running time
108 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Hanzo the Razor (かみそり 半蔵 Kamisori Hanzō?) is a fictional character featured in the trilogy of Japanese jidaigeki films of the same name. The films star Shintaro Katsu (known for his role as Zatoichi) as the title character. He also produced the trilogy through his own Katsu Productions. Lead actresses differ in each film; they include Yukiji Asaoka playing the character Omino in Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice.

The story is based on the manga Goyōkiba (御用牙) by Kazuo Koike, whose Lone Wolf and Cub manga was also adapted as a film series by Katsu, this time starring his brother, Tomisaburo Wakayama.

The trilogy[edit]

The trilogy is made up of:

  • Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice (御用牙 Goyōkiba?) (1972)
  • Hanzo the Razor: The Snare (御用牙 かみそり半蔵地獄責め Goyōkiba: Kamisori Hanzō jigoku zeme?) (1973)
  • Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold? (御用牙 鬼の半蔵やわ肌小判 Goyōkiba: Oni no Hanzō yawahada koban?) (1974)

Premise[edit]

Itami Hanzo (板見 半蔵) is a machikata yoriki in his early 40s who is in the Edo police, serving under the Northern Machi-bugyō. Due to the harsh methods he applies at investigations and his inflexible attitude towards both criminals and his superiors, he is known with the nickname Hanzo the Razor. Each plot details Hanzo's foiling a plot by corrupt and privileged Edo period officials and Edo Castle courtiers. Distinguishing characteristics of the films include:

  • Hanzo vilifies elitism and corruption, consistently railing against the powers-that-be who continue to threaten Hanzo with seppuku for his insolence.
  • Hanzo continuously mocks his superior officer, Magobei Onishi, whom Hanzo dubs Hebi no Magobei ("Snake Magobei") due to Onishi's penchant for bribes and beautiful women.
  • Hanzo is a constable who normally yields a jutte rather than a katana; this jutte has a hidden, weighted chain within it, which Hanzo uses to block against sword attacks or ensnare fleeing criminals.
  • Hanzo consistently utilizes torture (both on himself and on others) as a means of interrogation and self-purification;.
  • Hanzo ritualistically flagellates his huge penis so as to make it stronger; this exercise is always followed up by Hanzo's practicing sexual intercourse with a bale of rice.
  • Hanzo's home is filled with exotic traps and weapons to defeat assassins, such as a hidden wall of weapons near his ofuro and spears that descend from the ceiling.
  • Hanzo interrogates female suspects by raping them; later, he drinks sake with them in his ofuro and they immediately become infatuated with him, primarily due to his sexual dexterity.
Hanzo the Razor: The Snare
Hanzo the Razor - The Snare.jpg
Directed by Yasuzo Masumura
Produced by Shintaro Katsu
Hiroyoshi Nishioka
Written by Yasuzo Masumura
Kazuo Koike (creator)
Starring Shintaro Katsu
Music by Isao Tomita
Cinematography Kazuo Miyagawa
Edited by Toshio Taniguchi
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • August 11, 1973 (1973-08-11)
Running time
89 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Hanzo the Razor: Who's Got the Gold?
Hanzo the Razor - Who's Got the Gold.jpg
Directed by Yoshio Inoue
Produced by Shintaro Katsu
Hiroyoshi Nishioka
Written by Yasuzo Masumura
Takeshi Kanda (story)
Kazuo Koike (creator)
Starring Shintaro Katsu
Music by Hideaki Sakurai
Cinematography Chishi Makiura
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • February 9, 1974 (1974-02-09)
Running time
84 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

External links[edit]