Mumon: The Land of Stealth (" Shinobi no Kuni")

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2017
  • 124 mins
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
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Official Selection: Shanghai International Film Festival (2017) - Competition: the Jackie Chan Action Movie Week, Toronto Japanese Film Festival (2017), Japan Cuts (2017)

The province of Iga is known as “the Land of Stealth”, its inhabitants, “the tribe of beasts.” The unease the Iga causes is not unwarranted, for it is the home of the ninja clans. Even the imperious warlord Oda Nobunaga, as his forces flood the provinces around Iga and his rule over all of Japan deemed all but certain, is rueful regarding this perilous nest of killers, saboteurs and spies. Among the ninja of Iga, none has greater skill than the one they call Mumon – it means “No Gate,” because no gate remains barred before him. A master of the ways of the ninja, he’s nonetheless an easygoing, upbeat sort – maybe too much so, to his beautiful wife’s frustration. Others in Iga, though, have darker perspectives, and the fearsome Oda remains and implacable threat…

The versatile Satoshi Ohno, actor, broadcaster and frontman of J-pop band Arashi, adds ninja knife-fighting to his big bag of media skills, and brings to life an unconventional yet immensely memorably hero, in MUMON. Equally versatile is director Yoshihiro Nakamura, who never ceases to surprise with left-field Fantasia classics like FISH STORY, GOLDEN SLUMBER, SEE YOU TOMORROW EVERYONE, and THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE. With MUMON, Nakamura has detoured into jidaigeki, the Japanese period film, and hasn’t done so in half measures. Breathtaking acrobatics and battlefield thrills abound, as do tense drama, moral dilemmas, odd twists and outright laughs. And in the spirit of the sneaky, clever ninja clans of yore, Nakamura’s always making moves one can’t anticipate!

- Rupert Bottenberg

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