Set during the difficult second half of the 16th century, the film opens with an epic battle in a torrential rainstorm between two rival gangs of impresarios. Victorious showbiz warlord, Simonkawa, hosts an after-battle press conference, where he announces his plans to marry kidnapped Princess Cheryl Blossom during the star-studded finale of his long-running talent contest. “This will consolidate my power base,” he tells the assembled journalists, “and save on catering costs.”
Meanwhile, the Princess’s estranged fiancé – a former army general still loyal to his defeated clan (Toshiro Mifune) – embarks on a bold mission to rescue his lover: with the help of a sympathetic voice coach, he infiltrates the talent show disguised as an up-and-coming geisha.
However, this battle-hardened veteran of a thousand wars soon learns that years of combat experience are no preparation for this cruel, backstage world of manipulative sob stories and betrayal.
The Den of the Dragon, 1953