Makabe Rokurota, the loyal retainer of Princess Yuki-hime, Yuki-hime and Akizuki's ample treasury of gold bars safely to the politically stable Hayakawa. They disguise themselves as humble firewood peddlers, hiding the gold bars inside the logs they are carrying so as to pass safely through roadblocks set up by Yamana, which is under the control of the local warlord. Along the way, Rokurota comes across Takezo and Shimpachi, who have escaped from forced labour in a gold mine. They eventually agree to help out on this foolhardy mission in the hope of escaping Yamana's oppression and cashing in on the gold reward Rokurota offers them.
- Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess review by NW
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You rated this film: 4
Japanese history is shot through with violence, cruelty and horror ... but as soon as you look properly, so is everyone else’s. I thought, when I ordered this film, that I was going to see again Kurosawa’s classic “Hidden Fortress” ... this “Last Princess” re-make is interesting for comparison, though a puzzle. Am I right in thinking it a poorer film? Normally I deplore and detest all remakes yet here, indeed, the original structure is retained, and superbly presented. VisualIy the filming is beautiful and expert, yet somehow the sharp bite and depth of the original have got lost. Both films are fairy tales ... is it that good colour takes the soul out of fairy tales because it makes them too real and every day? Is it because his very expertise in scene setting and the range of facilities available distracts Higuchi from real close contact with the characters and the story? I am not sure! I often feel that Kurosawa dwells a bit too much on extreme violence and ferocity ... well, it is all here in this re-make, with deliberately added memories of Star Wars – which was a thinner, poorer film than either Hidden fortress or Higuchi’s version.
Putting doubts aside, the original Hidden Fortress had a straightforward directness – so often a benefit of plain black and white – which leaves a sharper memory ... the director WAS Kurosawa, ... and the players (Mifune!) were the very best. As nearly always, the original IS the better film, though it does have flaws of its own. (Fairy tale arrival at an unlikely happy ending; scarcely credible escapes and survivals; arguably over-played pair of peasant fugitives and surely unlikely adaptability of Princess Yuki to changed social status.) Higuchi also strains credence on and off – what on earth was that explosive yellow vapour which was also poisonous when mining was attempted for the hidden gold? I know of nothing of the sort in the real world ... after working in mines myself ...