Japanese Movie Listing - H

Out of the Japanese movies beginning with the letter H, probably the one of most interest to many people is The Hidden Fortress which was the basis of Star Wars. Don't get your hopes up too high, though - it is only the most basic of ideas which then encouraged Lucas to create his vast empire. It is simply a pair of bumbling friends trying to make their way while an epic tale swirls around them.

The H-Man (1958) 79m. D: Inoshiro Honda
Good special FX marred by dumb script: radioactive liquid causing havoc in Tokyo.

Half-Human (1955) 98m. D: Kon Ichikawa
Troublesome family brought together when immature brother/son contracts TB. Sentimental drama.

Harakiri (Seppuku) (1962) 135m. D: Masaki Kobayashi
This movie won the 1963 special jury prize at Cannes. It is the story of a young samurai, Motome Chijiwa, who is very poor and is forced to commit harakiri (seppuku, ritual suicide). Because of his poor condition, he must do it with a bamboo sword. His father in law, Tsugumo, takes revenge for this and then goes to the Ii clan to ask to commit suicide to bring honor back to his family. Nobody at the Ii clan cares. The movie is set in 1630, which is after the Tokugawa peace, and shows the changes between the old-guard 'fighting samurai' and the new-guard peace time ones.

Heaven and Earth (Ten To Chi To) (1990)
A Samurai epic covering the battle for the future of Japan between warlords Nagao Kagetora and Shingen Takeda. Takaaki Enoki, Masahiko Tsugawa, Atsuko Asano, Tsunehiko Watase. Directed by: Haruki Kadokawa (I absolutely adore this film. An absolute masterpiece. Truly a work of art. In my opinion it's as impressive as Akira Kurosawa's "KAGEMUSHA" and "RAN". --Richard) Note this is NOT the Oliver Stone movie "Heaven and Earth", which was about Vietnam.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957 - US) D: John Huston.
Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr. Touching tale of nun Kerr and Marine Mitchum stranded together on a Pacific island. They must share the island with a Japanese army unit until the fleet arrives, so survival becomes paramount. Several scenes of the Japanese relaxing amongst themselves (taking a meal, bathing, playing "Go") add special depth to this already fine character play. Said to have been filmed in the Carribeans. [Gavin Hougham]

Hell in the Pacific (1968) 103m.
Two men, one Japanese (Toshiro Mifune) and one American (Lee Marvin) confront each other on a deserted Pacific Island during WWII. Gripping idea well executed, with two dynamic actors, only the finale disappoints. (sounds like 'Enemy Mine'? --Lisa) D: John Boorman.

The Hidden Fortress (Kakuchi Toride no San-Akunin)(1958) 139 m.
Two Bumbling vagabonds are dragooned by superman general Toshiro Mifune into aiding his rescue of a fugitive princess and her family's hidden gold. Probably Kurosawa's most dazzling exercise in pure filmmaking (it was his first use of widescreen), and one of Mifune's most exciting vehicles (he did all his own stunts), this richly comic fairy tale for adults is pure entertainment from the masters, and acknowledged as the source for Star Wars. Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Written by Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Kurosawa. With: Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara, Susumu Fujita. B&W, Japanese with English subtitles. [Daniel Richard]

High and Low (Tengoku To Jigoku) (1962) 142m.
Carefully paced study of Toshiro Mifune, a businessman who is financially ruined when he nobly pays ransom money to kidnappers who mistakenly stole his chauffeurs son. D: Akira Kurosawa.

The Highest Honor (1985?)
HBO movie about a group of American POWs in Japan who are accorded the highest honor, execution by beheading.

Himatsuri (Fire Festival).
Made in the 80s, it's about environmental issues around a Japanese fishing village. Saw it once in a theater, but can't remember may details.[Jim Holman]

Hirohito: Behind the Myth (1989) 90m. Documentary.

Hirohito of Japan: The Last Banzai 50m. Documentary.

Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes (1990) 105m.
TV movie, focusing on the immediate aftermath of the blast in Hiroshima, interweaving realistically filmed stories of suffering, and anguish, and the will to survive amid incredible devastation. Max von Sydow, Judd Nelson, Ben Wright, Mako, Pat Morita, Tamlyn Tomita, Stan Egi, Brady Tsurutani, Shizuko Hoshi, Kim Miyori. D: Peter Werner.

Hiroshima (1995)
An even-handed treatment of the bombing of Hiroshima during WWII, from both American and Japanese viewpoints. Wesley Addy, David Gow, Hisashi Igawa, Ken Jenkins, Sheena Larkin, Richard D. Massur, Tatsuo Matsumura

Hiroshima Maiden (1988).
Tamlyn Tomita. 1950's story of prejudice and social pressure.

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959 - Fr/J).
D: Alain Resnais, with Okada Eiji and I forget the French actress's name. French actress pairs with Japanese architect. I saw this in Japan many years ago and remember being struck by the fact that when Okada said "Hiroshima" it appeared in the sub-titles in kanji, but when the French actress said "Hiroshima" it appeared in katakana. The first time I came across the phenomenon of foreigners being unable to speak kanji, which I have met many times since. [Gavin Hougham]

Hometown (1930) (Furusato) D: Kenji Mizoguchi.
Mizoguchi's first sound film -- made with a sound process called "MinaTalkič" -- is a striking melodrama about a down-and-out singer (played by Yoshie Fujiwara, Japan's first great opera tenor) who gains the favour of a wealthy society woman. Her patronage leads to his first hit record -- and when her interest in him proves more than just artistic, he abandons the humble girlfriend who had supported him while he was struggling. Hometown is important for many things, especially for revealing the beginnings of the mature Mizoguchi style with its emphasis on long takes. A must for all Mizogucheans, film historians, and lovers of Japanese cinema" (James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario). Cast: Yoshie Fujiwara, Shizue Natsukawa, Isamu Kosugi. B&W, In Japanese with English subtitles. 86 mins. [Daniel Richard]

The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962 - US).
Jim Hutten, Paula Prentiss, Miyoshi Umeki. Light WWII service comedy.

Horse (1941)

House of Bamboo D: Don Siegel.
Thriller with Robert Stack, Robert Ryan, Cameron Mitchell and Brad Dexter (who I think were required by some kind of federal law to be cast in at least 50% of US movies between about 1955 and 1963). A gang of Army dropouts, deserters, AWOL & dishonorable discharge types terrorize Japan with the kinds of crimes only Americans [sic] would commit. Incorruptible and untouchable hero sergeant Stack comes to the rescue and wins the girl too. Interesting to see on recent viewing that there is a clear suggestion that Ryan falls in love with Stack and that Mitchell's conduct is in part motivated by his being a rejected lover. Japan in the 1950's. [Incorrectly titled The Bamboo Curtain by some. . .] [Gavin Hougham]

The Human Condition, Part 1: No Greater Love (1959) (Ningen no Joken I-II) D: Kobayashi Masaki.
Kobayashi's epic about war and moral responsibility reflects his humanistic concern. In Part 1, it is 1943, Kaji is sent to Manchuria to supervise a mining camp. He attempts to treat the workers as human beings but falls into a dispute with the brutal guards.

The Human Condition, Part 2: Road to Eternity (1959) (Ningen no Joken III-IV) D:Kobayashi Masaki.
Kaji loses his job at the mine and is drafted into the army. Life is difficult among the recruits and Kaji tries to improve conditions, but to no avail. In the final months of the war, Kaji survives a massacre when his poorly armed garrison is attacked by the Soviets.

The Human Condition, Part 3 (1961) (Ningen no Joken V-VI) D: Kobayashi Masaki.
The final installment of Kobayashi's trilogy finds Kaji and a few survivors in retreat from the Soviet army. After witnessing more horrors, he is taken prisoner. He finally escapes, and, thinking about his wife, dies in the cold snow of Siberia.

The Hunted (1995)
In modern day Japan, an American business executive named Paul Racine (played by Christopher Lambert) witnesses a ninja assassination of a beautiful Japanese woman (played by Joan Chen). Miraculously, he manages to survive the attack. The rutless ninja Kinjo (played by John Lone) orders his minions to kill Racine, the only outsider ever to have seen his face. To survive, Racine must join forces with a powerful samurai warrior (played by Yoshio Harada) and his wife (played by Yoko Shimada) who have an age-old score to settle. (A relatively big budget ninja film from Universal Pictures. Some great performances and a great story. The best ninja film since the glory days of Sho Kosugi :-). - [Daniel Richard])

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Note that since each of these movies was seen by a normal human being, what you read here is just one person's opinion :) Your own opinion may of course be different! If you notice that a movie listing is missing or incorrect, please Contact Me (Really!! WRITE ME!!!) so I can update the list!

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