A slave is rescued from bondage by a monk searching for relics of Buddha with which he hopes to found a temple in Japan, The former slave becomes the friend of the monk, and search for the relics together. Their friendship is put to the test when they enter a town being terrorized by its own mistrustful king.
The fantastic aspects of this Japanese adventure tale are the same as those of THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD ; namely, the presence of an elderly wizard with limited powers who helps the good guys, and the presence of an evil witch with bad dental hygiene who helps the bad guys. As a matter of fact, this movie bears more than a strong resemblance to the other movie listed above; once again, we have Toshiro Mifune as the hero, and a seemingly evil king who may well be the victim of his own courtiers. Granted, I was a good thirty minutes into this movie before the resemblance started manifesting itself. This one is a little better, but that may well be due to the fact that I was watching a subtitled, nicely letterboxed version of the movie instead of the dubbed pan-and-scan print I saw of THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD. It has its moments; the first appearance of the wizard (who is sleeping underwater) is memorable, and the scene where the king rediscovers the goodness of man is moving even if you could see it coming miles away. Still, because of the similarities, I couldn't quite escape that sense of staleness that comes from recycled plots, and though Mifune remains a great actor, he's even better when he's supported by great scripts and direction (by someone like, say, Kurosawa). This one is just a little too ordinary.