Feb 192021

Shogun’s Joy of Torture isn’t a movie for everyone, probably not for me either, as it doesn’t have much substance to offer and forget about much entertainment value.



Shogun’s Joy of Torture

Genre(s): Drama, Horror
Arrow Video| NR – 96 min. – $39.95 | February 23, 2021

Date Published: 02/19/2021 | Author: The Movieman

Director: Teruo Ishii
Writer(s): Teruo Ishii and Misao Arai (screenplay)
Cast: Teruo Yoshida, Masumi Tachibana, Fumio Watanabe, Reiko Mikasa, Yukie Kagawa, Shinichiro Hayashi, Asao Koike, Kichijiro Ueda, Tamaki Sawa

Features: Commentary, Interviews, Image Gallery, Trailer
Slip Cover: No
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: Japanese (PCM 1.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English
Disc Size: 37.87 GB
Total Bitrate: 38.10 Mbps
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Arrow Video provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 2¾/5

Plot Synopsis: From cult director Teruo Ishii comes an omnibus of three tales of crime and punishment based on true-life documented cases set during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate.

The first tale sees the beautiful Mitsu (MASUMI TACHIBANA) going to horrifying lengths to tend to her older brother Shinzo (TERUO YOSHIDA), a carpenter injured in a work accident, but the law catches up to them and metes out a terrifying retribution after they violate the ultimate taboo.

In the second, unfettered passions in a Buddhist nunnery are now allowed to go unpunished after abbess Reiho (YUKIE KAGAWA) and her attendant Rintoku (NAOMI SHIRAISHI) encounter a virile young monk from a neighboring temple.

In the closing segment, a sadistic torturer (FUMIO WATANABE) attempts to show a tattoo artist (ASAO KOIKE) how to depict convincing expressions of faces of pain in his work by allowing him to sketch a selection of Europeans as they are tortured for entering Japan with the aim of spreading Christianity.

Review: I honestly didn’t know what to expect going in and afterward I still have no idea what I watched or how I feel about it. The first vignette/segment gets things going, right into incest between brother and sister that is creepy as hell and I guess the filmmakers wanted us to feel some sort of sympathy towards Mitsu as she’s punished (spoiler, she confesses to the incest and sentenced to death versus denying and facing exile). Segments 2 and 3 may not be as incestuous but nevertheless still made me feel queasy, the third one especially takes the torture to the next level, women being mercilessly beaten, mostly to satisfy a tattoo artist trying to depict true terror.

My only guess, and based on the opening dialogue, is it’s a message of men’s desire to punish with death in the dark ages. I don’t know exactly but the only aspect that peek my interest is that the punishments were based on documented cases, with some sort of story to connect them. In terms of style, at least the film doesn’t try to romanticize the torture outside of the sister sacrificing herself to save her deceased brother’s honor.

I was tempted to not rate Shogun’s Joy of Torture or give an N/A or something because while not terrible, it’s also something I can quite recommend either and I have to wonder if this was an excuse for some to fulfill some sick fantasy.



This release, limited to the first pressing, comes with a booklet containing an essay and Teruo Ishii’s filmography. The cover is reversible with the original Japanese poster artwork.

Audio Commentary — Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, who gives a background on the project and specifics of the production as well as some of the historical elements of the 1960s time period. While I usually prefer another participant, Mes does keep the track flowing fairly well.

Teruo Ishii: Erotic-Grotesque Maestro (13:23) is a new interview with author Patrick Macias looking at Shogun’s Joy of Torture and the films of Teruo Ishii.

Bind, Torture, Thrill (25:16) — Author and critic Jasper Sharp discusses the history of torture in Japanese exploitation cinema.

Also included is an Image Gallery and the Original Trailer (2:40).


VIDEO – 4¾/5

Shogun’s Joy of Torture comes to Blu-ray through Arrow Video and presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio. Not much detail in the booklet about the transfer, but it was supplied by TOEI and some additional grading by Arrow Films. As such, and given the film’s age, looks great in 1080p. Detail is for the most part sharp and very well defined, particularly on the close-ups, and appears the natural film grain and noise is still present. Watching the film, I didn’t notice any significant film damage like dust marks, scratches, scuffs or other flaws so it does seem to be a clean picture and never has looked better.

AUDIO – 4/5

The original Japanese language PCM Mono track is more than adequate for a film like this. Dialogue comes across with good clarity and only  a hint of hissing in some scenes, but for the most part there is nice depth during many scenes, though a lot of them of women being ruthlessly tortured.


OVERALL – 3¼/5

Shogun’s Joy of Torture isn’t a movie for everyone, probably not for me either, as it doesn’t have much substance to offer and forget about much entertainment value as I don’t find incest or just all around torture of women all that boring. At the very least, the Bly-ray release by Arrow Video does have good video and audio transfers and a decent selection of bonus features.





Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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