This Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's classic 1992 Western is missing one crucial ingredient – namely, Clint himself as the aging outlaw. The original film was one of the high points in Eastwood's career.
As "Jubei the killer," Ken Watanabe is a formidable actor in his own right but we don't get to hear him declaim Eastwood's famously nihilistic lines in that laconic drawl: "I've killed women and children. I've killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you."
Even so, the film is remarkably faithful to Eastwood's version. It carries on a long tradition of exchange between Westerns and Japanese samurai films that stretches back to Kurosawa and Sergio Leone. Director Lee Sang-il pays particular attention to landscape – and relishes the opportunity to show blood being spilt in snowy forests.
Koichi Sato excels in the old Gene Hackman role of the brutal, cigar-chewing sheriff who is ready to flay and humiliate any outlaw unwise enough to set foot in his town.