Zegen

Shohei Imamura's mordant, corrosive satire about Japanese imperialism (1987) is based on the autobiography of Iheiji Muraoka, a Japanese barber in Hong Kong who was ordered by the Japanese consulate to spy on Russians in Manchuria in the early 1900s. Played by Ken Ogata, the barber invests his earnings in a brothel and, anticipating the Japanese invasion of countries stretching from Manchuria to Malaysia, opens a string of such establishments across east Asia and defends his activity as a form of higher patriotism. (None of the action is set in Japan itself.) This being an Imamura film, the caricatures are laid on rather thick, but the high spirits carry the sarcasm. Also known as Pimp. In Japanese with subtitles. 124 min.

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