Hanzo "The Razor" Itami returns in the second of three outrageous samurai films about the adventures of the Japanese police constable on a one-man crusade to eradicate crime and corruption by employing a swift sword and a huge penis. The 1973 film received its first official US release on
home video in 1998.
While chasing some criminals, Hanzo "The Razor" Itami (Shintaro Katsu) runs into a procession that's carrying Finance Commissioner Okubo and insults him, prompting a duel with his bodyguard. Later, during an investigation into the death of a woman due to an illegal abortion, Itami discovers that a
priestess at a Buddhist Temple is auctioning off virgins for S&M orgies. Itami captures the priestess and takes her to his "torture room," where he rapes her until she confesses that Okubo is the mastermind behind the criminal activities. She also tells him that Okubo has been stealing from the
treasury by issuing watered down currency.
Meanwhile, a master thief named Shoobei is raiding mints across the country. Itami goes to see Niku, the manager of the mint for the Shogunate, and while lying in wait for Shoobei to arrive, overhears Okubo tell Niku to issue twice as many coins with more lead and less gold. When Shoobei arrives,
Itami kills his whole gang, and after Shoobei takes Niku hostage and rapes her, Itami kills him as well. Okubo is arrested after Itami accuses him of corruption and Itami then kills Okubo's vengeful bodyguard in a duel.
THE RAZOR: THE SNARE is the most graphic and perverse of the three films in the series, with a tone that's set during its gory pre-credits sequence where Itami massacres dozens of bandits, followed by a scene where he examines a naked corpse and determines that she died of an abortion by sticking
his fingers inside of her and smelling them. The film's original title, which translates as "Hanzo the Razor's Torture from Hell," is an apt description of its tone. The abortion ceremony sequence, featuring a demonic priestess screaming "Purge the unborn" is pretty wild stuff, even for this
series, as is the auction of the virgins, in which depraved elderly men bind and viciously whip their willing slaves. And of course, there's Itami's infamous "torture room," where he takes the priestess and alternates "torture of pain"--putting concrete slabs on her knees--with "torture of
pleasure"--raping her while she spins in his notorious rope basket.
These elements are made palatable, however, by being woven into the fabric of the plot, which is probably the most intriguing of the series, dealing with such issues as poverty and inflation. There is also less of a tongue-in-cheek attitude than in the two other films, while the myriad swordfights
are stylishly staged for maximum bloody impact, as demonstrated in Itami's fortress-like house, which is rigged with knives, spears, and swords that shoot out of the walls and floors at the touch of a button. The widescreen cinematography by the great Kazuo Miyagawa (UGETSU, RASHOMON) is also
exceptional, and the effective music score thankfully eschews the 1970s Western-style pop sound of the others in the series. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1973
- Rating: NR
- Review: Hanzo "The Razor" Itami returns in the second of three outrageous samurai films about the adventures of the Japanese police constable on a one-man crusade to eradicate crime and corruption by employing a swift sword and a huge penis. The 1973 film received… (more)