Thursday, March 13, 2008

New England Australia film: Nundle's Japanese western - Koya No Toseinin (The Drifting Avenger) 1968

Many years ago on my first visit to Nundle, I stopped to have a beer at the local pub. Sitting outside on the shady verandah, I was struck by a movie poster on the wall, a Japanese western apparently shot in Nundle. All these years later, I have finally got round to tracing the film.

Made in 1968, Koya No Toseinin (The Drifting Avenger) stared Ken Takakura,, an actor known for his brooding, stoic, style.

Known, in IMB's words, as the "Clint Eastwood" of Japan, Takakura gained his streetwise swagger and tough guy persona watching yakuza turf battles over the lucrative black market and racketeering in postwar Fukuoka. This subject was covered in one of his most famous movies, Showa zankyo-den (1965) in which he played an honorable old-school yakuza among the violent post-war gurentai.

One commentator on the IMB site described the movie this way:

While in the US Air Force and stationed in Japan, I had the opportunity to be an extra in this movie. I had understood it to be an Australian movie where the indoor scenes were shot in Japan. However, maybe it was just a low budget American film with the outdoor shots made in Australia and the indoors shots in Japan. It was about a Japanese family settled in the old west and a group of stagecoach robbers sought refuge in the Japanese family house. The young son hid under a bed and the bad guys killed his parents. He therefore became the Drifting Avenger. I would like to get my hands on a copy as in one scene my image filled the sliver screen!

This led to a follow-up comment:

My uncle was "Mike the boy" in this movie alongside the very famous Japanese actor Ken Takakura. The movie itself is okay, but I too am trying to get my hands on a copy of this movie simply because my relative was in it. The movie was originally shot in English and then dubbed over in Japanese. Although I have the Japanese version, I am trying to get a copy of the original. The National Film and Sound archive in Australia has a copy, but Toei, the Japanese company that produced the movie is refusing to give permission to make a copy for personal use. Anyhow, any help would be greatly be appreciated. A Japanese western? Can't say that there are too many of these. Can't say there would be any reason for Japanese to be dressed as cowboys, except that someone thought that it would be fun to ride horses and shoot people.

This is as much as I know at present. I, too, would like to see the film. It was apparently never released in Australia.

New England Film Entry Page

You will find the site entry page on New England film here.


Anonymous said...

I made the original comment you quoted from IMDB. I have in the past couple of days found the movie. There are two sites I have found with the movie. One is and the other The first site is in New York and the other California.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Anon. I really appreciate this. Will follow up. Jim