|Original title: Tange Sazen yowa: Hyakuman ryo no tsubo|
|Rating: (4.5 / 5)|
|Director: Sadao Yamanaka|
|Duration: 92 min.|
|Genres: Comedy, Drama|
Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo
When you look for the definition of a hidden gem, this is what you might find. Sazen Tange is a very vibrant comedy film from pre-world war 2 Japan. The film was directed by another hidden talent, Sadao Yamanaka. In his 7 year career as a director, the man directed 23 (!) films, but unfortunately only three of them are still available. Sazen Tange is probably the best, but his last film Humanity and Paper Balloons, a film about samurai and crime, is probably his best know work, not in the last place because it got him killed. For the sake of being complete, Priest of Darkness, an adaptation of a famous kabuki play, is his third remaining film.
“Because he depicted the samurai as less than heroic, he was sent to fight on the Chinese front and was killed there.” – IMDb Trivia
Sazen Tange does not try very hard to tell its viewers who the man in question is. It starts off somewhere else entirely. A seemingly wealthy man gives his brother, who is not so well off, a rather ugly and not very useful pot. But since it is a family heirloom, it still has a wee bit of value. What he doesn’t know is that on the pot someone drew a map to a supposed treasure of as much as one million Ryō, which I suspect is worth quite a bit. Its wiki page isn’t particularly helpful in that respect. Anyway, his brother doesn’t know the real value of the pot either, is pissed off at his brother for giving him this piece of junk, and tells his wife to sell it. She does for a killer amount of less than one Ryō to one of the city’s many scrap dealers. But then both brothers realise its true value, and they set off on a search for the pot.
The films follows all of these events from a distance, but it start to focus in on the shack where the pot finds its place serving as a goldfish bowl for a young kid. And if you thought his name was Tange Sazen you’d be wrong. He’s actually a kick-ass ex-samurai with a scarred eye, only one arm and a heart of gold, but I wont follow the plot that far. However there are quite a few laughs to be had and also a few tears to shed, while some people search for the pot and others use the search as an excuse to escape their wife to shoot arrows at a local archery.