June 11, 2020
A surprisingly amusing samurai romp. I honestly didn't expect too much from this film, then again I should've known better than to write off an aging Japanese director. It's one of Kon Ichikawa's final films, and while not really a highlight of contemporary film making, Alley Cat still feels remarkably fresh.
The film's biggest selling point is Kôji Yakusho, who is visibly having fun with his character. It's also a pretty thankful role, as he can smash protocol and still come out on top. It gives the film a certain lightness that I didn't see coming, not in the least because the rest of the film is a pretty classic samurai affair.
The film reminded me quite a bit of Mitani's The Kiyosu Conference, not in the least because the setting and Yakusho's part show great resemblance. Mitani handles the material slightly better, with an overall more pleasant presentation, but Ichikawa's film has plenty to offer too. This was a nice find.