In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
Japanese warlord Hidetori Ichimonji decides the time has come to retire and divide his fiefdom among his three sons. His eldest and middle sons - Taro and Jiro - agree with his decision and promise to support him for his remaining days. The youngest son Saburo disagrees with all of them arguing that there is little likelihood the three brothers will remain united. Insulted by his son's brashness, the warlord banishes Saburo. As the warlord begins his retirement, he quickly realizes that his two eldest sons selfish and have no intention of keeping their promises. It leads to war and only banished Saburo can possibly save him.
A story of greed, a lust for power, and ultimate revenge. The Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji has decided to step aside to make room for the younger blood of his three sons, Taro, Jiro, and Saburo, the Lord's only wish now being to live out his years as an honored guest in the castle of each of his sons in turn. While the older two sons flatter their father, the youngest son attempts to warn him of the folly of expecting the three sons to remain united; enraged at the younger son's attempt to point out the danger, the father banishes him. True to the younger son's warning, however, the oldest Son soon conspires with the second son to strip The Great Lord of everything, even his title.
Akira Kurosawa's treatment of King Lear, with three sons dealing with the passing of an era as their warlord father Lord Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) tries to find peace in his last years by dividing his fief among them. While one honest son, Saburo Naotora Ichimonji (Daisuke Ryu), faces his family's wrath for speaking the truth, his two brothers, Taro Takatora Ichimonji (Akira Terao) and Jiro Masatora Ichimonji (Jinpachi Nezu) vie for power in the vacuum left by Hidetora's retirement. While Kyoami the Court Fool (Pîtâ) makes wise commentary, Hidetora discovers for himself the madness caused by his thirst for power, and tries to find redemption for his deadly past.