When a powerful warlord in medieval Japan dies, a poor thief recruited to impersonate him finds difficulty…

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 7.9/10 (14,029 voted)

Akira Kurosawa

Stars: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara

When a powerful warlord in medieval Japan dies, a poor thief recruited to impersonate him finds difficulty living up to his role and clashes with the spirit of the warlord during turbulent times in the kingdom.

Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide


Tatsuya Nakadai

Shingen Takeda

Tsutomu Yamazaki

Nobukado Takeda

Ken'ichi Hagiwara

Katsuyori Takeda

Jinpachi Nezu

Sohachiro Tsuchiya

Hideji Ôtaki

Masakage Yamagata

Daisuke Ryû

Nobunaga Oda

Masayuki Yui

Ieyasu Tokugawa

Kaori Momoi


Mitsuko Baishô


Hideo Murota

Nobufusa Baba

Takayuki Shiho

Masatoyo Naito

Kôji Shimizu

Katsusuke Atobe

Noboru Shimizu

Masatane Hara

Sen Yamamoto

Nobushige Oyamada

Shuhei Sugimori

Masanobu Kosaka

Release Date: 6 October 1980

Filming Locations: Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan

Box Office Details

Budget: $6,000,000


Technical Specs



Did You Know?


When Toho Studios couldn't fulfill the budget demands of the film, American film directors George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola helped Akira Kurosawa by convincing 20th Century-Fox (still riding high after the success of Lucas'
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) to fund the remaining portion of the budget in exchange for "Kagemusha"'s international distribution rights.


When Kagemusha is being ejected from the Takeda clan compound, he is seen with his left arm in a dark purple-colored cloth sling, which covers most of his hand and forearm. As the camera shot changes to a slightly longer shot, the sling is suddenly much narrower, exposing much more of his hand and forearm.


Shingen Takeda:
To occupy Kyoto, to fly my flags in the capital, has been my long-cherished dream. But… if something should happen to me, do not pursue that dream. Remember: my death must not be made known. Keep it a secret, for at least three years. Guard our domain. Never move from it. Do not move! If you ignore my order and set out to attack, our Takeda clan will be no more. Heed my words! This… is my final wish.

User Review

A great film that grows on you

Rating: 9/10

"Kagemusha" is one of those films which wasn't intended as a great
success, yet it became that, winning the Golden Palm and giving
Kurosawa back his much needed acclaim in Japan and re-establishing his
reputation as the giant of Asian cinema.

Although Kurosawa himself thought of this film as a mere dress
rehearsal,a preparation for "Ran", "Kagemusha" carries its own
distinctive essence which makes it a work in the same category as its
successor.The story deals around one of the greatest feudal lords and
generals in Japan's history, Takeda Shingen, showing his unexpected and
untimely demise. Although Shingen is the most powerful figure here, he
is used as a monument around which everything revolves and not as the
principal hero.

This film is full of sad and tragic moments, starting with Shingen's
untimely death and culminating with the rebuking of his impersonator,
Kagemusha. Nakadai plays the dual roles wonderfully. He is so
emotionally involved in his part as Kagemusha that it seems almost
uncanny. Thus we see why Kurosawa has chosen him as Mifune's successor.
The other actors are also splendid and specially young Daisuke Ryu
makes a startling appearance as Shingen's arch rival Oda Nobunaga.

The ending is very hard to watch, both the scene where Kagemusha is
thrown out in the rain and the last scene which illustrates the death
of the Takeda clan. What makes this film a pleasure to watch is the
incredible cinematography and photography, specially in the incredible
dream sequence where the ghost of Shingen chases Kagemusha through red
clouds, as well as the hauntingly beautiful music and marvelous

All in all, this is a great film that will grow on you the more you
watch it. Although "Ran" is more spectacular and gripping, "Kagemusha"
is more compelling because of its epic nature. 9/10