Blog Archives

Drunken Angel (1948)

(from , dir: )

This is one of my favourite Akira Kurosawa’s movies set in contemporaneous times – not a saumrai in sight, although Toshiro Mifune appears almost as animalistic and out of control here in his first collaboration with Kurosawa as he does in some of his most famous samurai roles (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo). He is not the drunkard of the movie’s translated title, however. The alcoholic is Takashi Shimura’s doctor, Sanada, whose contempt … (read more)

Comments Off on Drunken Angel (1948)

Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

(from , dir: )

Like all good reviewers I’m reviewing the first film (Samurai 1) after the second one (Samurai 2), don’t worry I did watch them in the right order.

This is the great first episode of the famous trilogy based on the life of Musashi Miyamoto, its star, everyone’s favourite screen samurai, Toshiro Mifune (well, mine at least).

Musashi really existed, but much like Wong Fei Hung in China his life has been mythologized and his story has … (read more)

Comments Off on Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

(from , dir: )

A few years ago I decided to work my way through the classics of cinema. Many of them I really enjoyed, but there were some that were a bit of a struggle to sit through, at the end I would say that was a bit of a struggle, but it was a worthy film. The Samurai Trilogy was on my list but I hadn’t been able to get to it (partly because of the lack of availability, which has been … (read more)

Comments Off on Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

Yojimbo (1961)

(from , dir: )

Ah, Yojimbo. Forgive me for feeling little nostalgic, but once upon a time I discovered a couple of old black & white VHS tapes in the local library that became my entrance to Akira Kurosawa and then through his movies, eventually, belatedly, to the wondrous dimension of Asian cinema. Yojimbo was shorter than the other tape (Seven Samurai) so I watched it first. Ah, Yojimbo … it’s been a while, but thanks for a rather superb introduction.… (read more)

Comments Off on Yojimbo (1961)

Zatoichi: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970)

(from , dir: )

Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo, is the first Zatoichi film to see Shintaro Katsu go head-to-head with screen legend Toshiro Mifune. We know that they have to fight one another, but whose fighting skills will reign supreme?

What an incredibly good film! The entire film feels as though there was more money to spend than in all the previous Zatoichi films put together, and this has resulted in a forty year old film that is just as much, if not more, … (read more)

Comments Off on Zatoichi: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970)

Stray Dog (1949)

(from , dir: )

Considered by many to be the master’s first great work, Stray Dog is a superb film noir from the Kurosawa/Mifune team. An entry into that subgenre about an eccentric character on a single obsessive quest about something seemingly not so significant, the movie is pregnant with insight into male psychology, right and wrong, and of course the overarching churn of social change in post-war Japan. Just the very adoption of such an American genre as film noir speaks volumes about … (read more)

Comments Off on Stray Dog (1949)

The Seven Samurai (1954)

(from , dir: )

Seven Samurai is quite possibly the most overrated film ever. That’s a shame, because it’s a fine film — one of the finest, in fact — but there is a tendency among certain groups of people (who should know better) to refer to it as THE GREATEST ACTION FILM EVER MADE. Now, this really is stupidity, not only because everybody knows that The Killer is the greatest action film ever made, but also because, frankly, Seven Samurai isn’t an action … (read more)

Comments Off on The Seven Samurai (1954)

Red Beard (1965)

(from , dir: )

Thank god for Toshirô Mifune. Heretical as it may be, I can’t say I’m a big fan of this one. This loose and only fitfully engaging drama marks a frustrating end to one of the great director/star collaborations in the cinema, and appropriately Mifune is by far the best thing about it.

Mifune plays the title character, one of those doctor types you see quite a lot in fiction who is both grizzly and deeply humane, and is never less … (read more)

Comments Off on Red Beard (1965)