Tange Sazen Films

(Shinpen Tange Zazen - 1935)

It really helps to go into these films with some background about the character and history of Tange Sazen or it will be easy to have the same incorrect expectations that I did. All I knew was that he was a one-armed – one-eyed samurai and when it comes to Asian action the loss of body parts only makes you stronger. So I went in anticipating a typical chambara bloodbath with red stuff spurting like the Tivoli fountain. Though the films do have a few short quick bursts of swordplay, action is not really the primary purpose of the films and takes a backseat to story and character.
The Tange Sazen character is a very famous one in Japan going back to 1927 when Hayashi Fubo first published a serial in a newspaper with Tange as one of his characters. Later in the 1930's it became a popular manga from Tezuka Osamu and then was made into a series of films – the most famous being directed by Yamanaka Sadeo in 1935 titled “The Pot Worth a Million Ryo” which is still considered a classic today. Apparently when Fubo saw his creation on the screen he was quite upset with the comic interpretation the director had taken and complained to the production company, Nikkatsu. In all, over 30 films about Tange were made until 1966 when Hideo Gosha made the last one for over three decades – “Secret of the Urn”.  Over the decades nearly all the major film studios have taken a shot at this character with differing degrees of success. Now Tange is back again not only in  "Sazen" but there is a television series about him as well.

Title Year
Sazen 2004
Secret of the Urn 1966
The Mysterious Sword 1960
The Secret of the Golden Spell 1962
One Eyed Swordsman 1963