Legend of the Eight Samurai

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Legend of the Eight Samurai
Directed byKinji Fukasaku
Produced byHaruki Kadokawa
Written byToshio Kamata
Kinji Fukasaku
StarringHiroko Yakushimaru
Hiroyuki Sanada
Sonny Chiba
Music byNobody
CinematographySeizō Sengen
Distributed byToei
Release date
December 10, 1983 (Japan)
Running time
136 min

Legend of the Eight Samurai (里見八犬伝, Satomi Hakken-den) is a 1983 Japanese historical martial arts fantasy film, directed by Kinji Fukasaku. The script is adapted from a 1982 novel Shin Satomi Hakkenden (新・里見八犬伝) by Toshio Kamata, a loose reworking of the epic serial Nansō Satomi Hakkenden by Kyokutei Bakin.


The story follows Princess Shizu (Hiroko Yakushimaru), her family slain and on the run from her enemies. As she escapes she is found by the vagabond Shinbei (Hiroyuki Sanada), before being rescued from her pursuers by Dōsetsu (Sonny Chiba). He tells her the legend of a curse on her family, and of eight beads that identify eight dog-warriors who can lift it, of which he and his companion are two. To defeat the evil queen Tamazusa (Mari Natsuki) who killed her family, they must find all eight. But Shinbei hears of Princess Shizu's identity, and vows to collect the reward for capturing her.




The film preserves little of the plot or characterization, and none of the feel of the Bakin original. Instead it builds on the basic template – collecting a band of warriors together to accomplish a task, better known from films such as Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. While some of the back story and key elements like the beads remain, even the eight dog brothers are substantially changed, to the extent of Keno's feminine disguise becoming actual womanhood.


Fantastical elements in the film are brought to life with a combination of props, wire work, and post-production special effects. While the best of these like the eight glowing beads work well, others such as the rubber giant flying snake have aged less gracefully. The film version maintains the ero-guro elements of Kamata's book, including a nude blood-bathing rejuvenation scene.


The colorful film score features a mixture of synthesizers and "real" strings produced by Nobody, and a couple of power ballads performed by John O'Banion: Satomi Hakkenden, composed by Joey Carbone and written by Kathi Pinto, and Hakkenshi no Tēma (White Light) (八剣士のテーマ), composed by Joey Carbone and Richie Zito, written by David Palmer. An LP of the music was released by Eastworld, product id WTP-90258.


Legend of the Eight Samurai was the number one Japanese film on the domestic market in 1984, earning ¥2.3 billion in distribution income.[1]


Various English releases have been sold since the 1980s under the title Legend of the Eight Samurai, or Legend of Eight Samurai. An English dubbed version was released with some script modifications; and in 2005 an uncut, English subtitled version of the film was released. In 2012 the film was released on Blu-ray in Japan as part of the "Kadokawa Blu-ray Collection". On May 5, 2005, Digiview Entertainment released the English dub version of the film on DVD. It was on sale for $1, in many places like Wal-Mart, Dollar Store, etc.


  1. ^ "Kako haikyū shūnyū jōi sakuhin 1984-nen" (in Japanese). Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved 4 February 2011.

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