A stylized film [from a novel by Otokichi Mikami], An Actor’s Revenge mixes Kabuki theatre with ritual, action, humor and derring-do that jell into an entertaining opus. The hero is an actor who impersonates females, for there are no women in Kabuki. But he carries his female impersonations into real life, too.
The actor has sworn vengeance on those who ruined his father’s business and drove him to suicide. The daughter of one falls for the actor, and he decides to use her to get to the others. There is also a Robin Hood-ish character who spies the goings-on and decides to help the actor.
Director Kon Ichikawa has done a sort of play-within-a-play pic. Outdoor shots are staged on sets which add to the ambiguity but are a visual delight of the film. Kazuo Hasegawa is extraordinary as the actor.
Hasegawa began his career as an oyama (actors who played female roles in classic Japanese theatre), and actually played the same role in an earlier pic version of this tale.