Japanese screenwriter Hideo Oguni, who had previously worked on such films as Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961), contributed his adept storytelling to this drama shortly after working on Kurosawa's intriguing High and Low (1962). Like Seven Samurai, as the title indicates, this tale follows the life of a Japanese samurai warrior. In this instance, however, our hero is unemployed, giving him status of "ronin". Isamu Nagato plays Ihei Misawa, who, upon losing his master, takes to the trade of hustling as means of survival. Ihei rescues Otae (Shima Iwashita) from a demented feudal lord who had intended her as his concubine. This infuriates the lord and he immediately sends his henchmen after the couple. In order to escape across the border of the domain, Ihei must procure a sufficient amount of gold pieces to bribe the border guards. The ronin decides to enter into a little competition of swordplay to earn the extra gold, not revealing his samurai experience. Victory not enough, Ihei uses blackmail against his defeated opponent, Gunjuro Ohba (Tetsuro Tamba), to collect more gold. Impressing the locals with his skill in the fight, Ihei is offered a position as martial arts master, which is soon withdrawn upon the discovery of his dishonorable ways. Ihei and Otae set out once again. Desperately trying to pass into the neighboring domain, they are violently confronted by several warriors.
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