American audiences have watched gun-slinging westerns that are really adaptations of samurai films since the 1950’s, most notably The Magnificent Seven, starring Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen. The film is a retelling of famed director Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, where rough and tumble cowboys with guns, replace Samuari warriors and their swords.
Now the tables have turned, and Japan has remade Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning western Unforgiven, called Yurusarezaru mono, adapted from the original screenplay by David Webb People (The William Munny Killings). For Eastwood, it’s a particularly fitting turnaround. His breakthrough role in A Fistful of Dollars was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s ronin drama Yojimbo. Eastwood also has ties to the project with through star Ken Watanabe, whom Eastwood directed in Letters From Iwo Jima.
Yurusarezaru mono stars the Oscar-nominated Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception) as Jubee Kamata. Jubee is a feared former swordsman, an aging Samurai of a fallen Shogun in 1880 Japan. His wife had urged him to give up his life of killing, but she has passed away. Jubee still lives by his Samurai code, and he is not so much tempted, but forced by his poverty, to resume his old ways for the large bounty that is being offered.
The film is directed by Lee Sang-il (the award-winning Villain), and was shot on the island of Hokkaido. It is produced by Warner Bros. Also among the cast are Jun Kunimura, Yuya Yagira, Akira Emoto, Eiko Koike, Shiori Kutsuna and Koichi Sato.
The film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival and open in Japan September 13. A U.S. premiere is expected to be announced soon.