Kubi (首, lit. "neck") is a 2023 Japanese historical samurai film written, directed and edited by Takeshi Kitano, who also stars as Hashiba Hideyoshi (Toyotomi Hideyoshi). The film is based on the novel of the same name, which was published in 2019 and written by Kitano. The film depicts the historical event of the Honnō-ji Incident, which took place in the Sengoku period in 1582.

Movie Data

Original title: Kubi
Original language: Japanese
Published: 2023
Length: 131 Minuten

Director: Takeshi Kitano
Script: Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano: Hashiba Hideyoshi
Hidetoshi Nishijima: Akechi Mitsuhide
Ryo Kase: Oda Nobunaga
Nakamura Shidō II: Naniwa Mosuke
Tadanobu Asano: Kuroda Kanbei
Nao Ōmori: Hashiba Hidenaga
Yūichi Kimura: Sorori Shinzaemon
Kenichi Endō: Araki Murashige
Masanobu Katsumura: Saitō Toshimitsu
Susumu Terajima: Sahei
Kenta Kiritani: Hattori Hanzō
Naomasa Musaka: Ankokuji Ekei
Makoto Ōtake: Mamiya Buryō
Kanji Tsuda: Tamezō
Yoshiyoshi Arakawa: Shimizu Muneharu
Kan'ichirō: Mori Ranmaru
Jun Soejima: Yasuke
Kaoru Kobayashi: Tokugawa Ieyasu
Ittoku Kishibe: Sen no Rikyū

The Movie

The so-called Honnōji Incident occurred in 1582 in what was then the Japanese capital of Kyoto.
An attack is carried out on Prince Oda Nobunaga in a temple. Already known for beheading his enemies, Oda demands an even greater death toll after the attack.

So what follows is a series of horrors:
• A pregnant noblewoman is beheaded along with her entire family.
• Someone is stabbed with so many pikes that he dies standing up because his body cannot fall to the ground.
• A Spanish priest in a burning building is offered a church in exchange for a brutal knife attack.
• Lord Ieyasu's preference for doppelgangers, who have a life expectancy of a few hours.
• Severed heads everywhere, so many that they are occasionally used as hats.
• A warlord prone to jokes but also unable to control his temper, demanding hara-kiri from his generals every time he is angered.
• A bodyguard so experienced that in a surprise attack he can calmly kill five ninja in 10 seconds while the sixth runs for his life.
• A farmer named Mosuke who runs away to join Hideyoshi's army, returns home to find his family murdered and his house in flames. He falls to his knees and screams in relief that his family is no longer there and he can finally become a samurai warrior.

Many moments in “Kubi” are reminiscent of classics of the genre: battle sequences in the pouring rain are reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samurai,” and the often pathetic attempts at ritual suicide are reminiscent of Masaki Kobayashi’s “Harakiri.” The plot element of a ruler's doppelgangers is also familiar from "Kagemusha - The Warrior's Shadow", another Kurosawa classic.

Conclusion: In this film, Takeshi Kitano once again stages extreme brutality, for some critics at an aesthetically high level. Apparently he wants to dismantle the noble samurai epics. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to watch a film like this.