Review Date: 9/28/15
Cast: Takahashi Hideki
An inferior, but equally enjoyable TV remake of the 1958 original, starring the charismatic Takahashi Hideki as The Purple Hood. A corrupt official is making life miserable for the people of Edo and setting up a counterfeit coin operation to embezzle gold from the government. A pretty young girl is also being forced into marriage with the bad guy's equally rotten son, which means her fiancé needs to be removed from the picture. Amidst this political and economical strife comes a wandering ronin named Ryu, which also coincides with the appearance of the mysterious masked vigilante known as Purple Hood, and the reclusive master painter, Hidemaro. Purple Hood eventually exposes Tanuma's crimes and saves the people of Edo from further misfortune.
It's nearly an exact remake of the original, with only a handful of minor deviations to make it more family friendly. Takahashi Hideki does a wonderful job as Ryo and his alter egos, and is charming throughout. A little more background is given about his character, but it's difficult to determine if it's a ruse or the truth. The swordplay is about the same caliber as the original film, and once again the battles are flashy and bloodless. Unfortunately, the supporting characters come across as weak and uninteresting. The stereotypical villains are appropriately sinister, and they laugh and sneer with wicked glee while the local police carry on like bumbling idiots. The music is overly heroic and campy, and very typical of 1980's productions. Overall, a fun and light-hearted samurai adventure with prime time TV sensibilities.