Search - Shogun's Samurai - The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy on DVD

Shogun's Samurai - The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy
Shogun's Samurai - The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy
Actors: Kinnosuke Nakamura, Sonny Chiba, Hiroki Matsukata, Teruhiko Saigo, Reiko ďhara
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2004     2hr 10min


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Movie Details

Actors: Kinnosuke Nakamura, Sonny Chiba, Hiroki Matsukata, Teruhiko Saigo, Reiko ďhara
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Creators: Toru Nakajima, Kinji Fukasaku, Hir˘ Matsuda, Tatsuo Nogami
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Martial Arts, Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Adness
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 08/17/2004
Original Release Date: 12/07/1984
Theatrical Release Date: 12/07/1984
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 10min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Grand Epic
M. Sutton | Dallas, USA | 09/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Shogun's Samurai was hardly what I expected. With a cast that includes Sonny Chiba, Toshiro Mifune, Tetsuro Tanba, and Hiroyuki Sanada, I imagined an almost non-stop 130-minute action fest. Shogun's Samurai completely defied my expectations, and surprised me by containing some genuinely great characters and some touching dramatic moments.

Director Kinji Fukasaku is, in my opinion, one of the most talented filmmakers of the 20th century. His resume includes more than 60 directorial credits, and the vast majority of his films are, if not always intellectually stimulating, totally engrossing cinematic achievements.

In Shogun's Samurai, he molds a long, epic tale of loyalty and betrayal. There are still quite a few action scenes, but the trend here is for brief explosions of violence that get us quickly back into the narrative. That really is the best policy in a film as complicated as this one: there are so many characters and so many secrets, if Fukasaku had taken much more time on any of the action pieces he would have lost us, leaving us confused and unsatisfied. As it is, though, Shogun's Samurai should keep you intellectually involved and sitting on the edge of your seat; know what to expect, a complicated political drama with a bit of violence, and you are sure to enjoy the film.

I only give it four stars because of one painfully irritating performance: Kinnosuke Nakamura as Tajimaru Yagyu. His performance isn't bad, per say, just horribly out of place. The rest of the cast speaks quickly, realistically, and you can see the thought processes going on in their minds before and as they speak. Nakamura, however, feels as if he was torn straight from a Kabuki performance. I, personally, love Kabuki theatre, but in the film Nakamura's slow-as-molasses, extremely over-emphasized dialogue is distracting and annoying.

The DVD by Adness, who also recently released the Japanese horror series "Tomie" on DVD, was surprisingly quite good. The disc is anamorphically enhanced, and for the majority of the film there is hardly a trace of dust or any damage to the print. There are a handful of brief instances where some debris is noticeable on the print, but for a 30 year old film, Shogun's Samurai looks great! The disc also provides three trailers (two teasers and one full-length theatrical) that are also anamorphically enhanced and very sharp. They're quite fun to watch, and all of the dialogue and on-screen text are subtitled. All in all it's a very worthy disc for the film.

Whether you're a fan of Fukasaku, any of the cast, or Japanese period-epics in general, Shogun's Samurai is certainly a worthy purchase."
One of the great Samurai films of the 1970s
Asian movie connoiseur | NY, USA | 08/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Director Kinji Fukasaku was Japan's answer to Sam Fuller: he made films of unflinching brutality and political anger. As a child who witnessed the death and destruction of the Second World War, he brought his sense of injustice and outrage over the victimisation of ordinary people by the powerful in the existential thrillers he made under the thriving studio system.

SHOGUN SAMURAI: THE YAGYU CLAN CONSPIRACY was Fukasaku's first Samurai film after his hugely successful Yakuza films of the 60s and 70s, and possesses the same sense of social critique of the former films. A tragedy about ambition and lust for power, the story about the Shogun's sword master Yagyu and his schemes to install the late Shogun's hated older son to power over the favoured younger son, Fukasaku uses a shadowy chapter of Japanese history to reflect the turmoil and anxiety of the 1970s, drawing parallels with Watergate, political conspiracies, covert operations, cover-ups and assassinations, creating a powerful allegory for the times. The scope of the story is almost Shakespearan as Yagyu will stop at nothing to ensure his prince takes the seat of power, not even the death of his own children or an entire village of former allies will stand in his way.

One of the biggest hits in Japan at the time, this was a prestigious production, boasting a virtual who's who of Japanese acting A-list in an epic tapestry of the class system in medieval Japan. Sonny Chiba plays the renowned samurai Jubei Yagyu, one of his most beloved roles, but served as fight choreographer as well. There's not a single dull moment in the film as Fukasaku fills every frame with intrigue, betrayal and copious bloodshed, all to drive home the point about the corruption of power and the inescapable consequences of one man's actions.
Supremely Entertaining
Martial Arts Damsel | Cypress, Texas United States | 08/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I totally enjoyed this movie. Admittedly I saw it only becasue of Toshiro Mifune however he had only a small part. Nevertheless I was not disappointed. The action, romantic angst,the conspiracy and intrigue more than mdae up for it. The battle scenes were engaging without being needlessly gory. I say this is a great film."
Very Good Samurai Film: Deceit, Dishonor & Loyalty!
Ernest Jagger | Culver City, California | 10/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Shogun's Samurai," is the type of film you would expect from director Kinji Fukasaku. Having made numerous Yakuza films throughout his career, he wove a great film dealing with the same sort of deception and backstabbing that was his trademark with his crime films. The film is highly recommended, and one also gets quite a different look at Sonny Chiba's character. The beginning of the film sets the tone for the entire film. The heart of the recently deceased Shogun has been stolen from his resting body. Why? Did something happen to the Shogun which has cast doubt among others? One of the characters in the film who plays a very good role [and there are many] is Yagyu Tajima (Kinnosuke Nakamura). Who tries to convince the eldest son to assume power. I don't wish to give out too many details of his character, as it will ruin the film for you, but I will write that he plays the role of a conspirator exceptionally well.

The Shogun's recent death has left a vacuum among the Japanese people. There are two sons who are the heir to the Shogunate. With factions backing the eldest son, Prince Iemitsu Tokugawa (Hiroki Matsukata) and other factions backing the younger son, Prince Tadanaga Tokugawa (Teruhiro Saigo) the motions have been set for great intrigue and conspiracy at the highest levels. In fact, there are so many conflicting areas the film comes at you, that you sometimes wonders which side to root for. It appears everybody is being deceived at some point for some reason. As the struggle for a successor builds up tension in the film, the viewer is given a great look at the backstabbing and intrigue that is behind the two sides vying for power, and why sides are taken. Not all is what it appears at times.

"Shogun's Samurai" is an epic tale that will captivate you with both the loyalty and the betrayal of certain characters in the film. There are not many action scenes in the film, although there are a few. However, the films narrative is more about how politics shape the characters in the film, and why their loyalties are to one of the heirs and not the other. And moreover, whether or not their loyalties are genuine--or if they are just temporary due to the chaotic situation all parties now find themselves in. The cinematography of the film is great, the characters are terrific, and the narrative flows wonderfully. This is a highly engaging and recommended film, which I think you will find worth owning. It is at least worth the rent. Recommended."