Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Kurosawa's tightly paced, beautifully composed Sanjuro. In this companion piece to Yojimbo, jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors ... more »weed out their clan's evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a "proper" samurai on its ear. Criterion is proud to present Sanjuro in a gorgeous Tohoscope transfer.« less
"I love Toshiro Mifune. It's so wonderful to see him play this character. He cracks me up every time he does his little shoulder-twitch character trait. Brilliant!SANJURO delves a little deeper into his samurai character. There's some themes about killing and comparisons of his character to a good sword that should be sheathed. Other than that, it is flat-out adventure on the menu!Again, Kurosawa is a wonderful story teller. I find his work (the three films I've seen so far -- HIDDEN FORTRESS, YOJIMBO, and this one) to be so economical. He can add a wrinkle to the story with one word; one look. He truly transcends the language barrier because the storytelling is so good.I thought Criterion did another good job with the transfer. The trailer does, indeed, feature Kurosawa directing Mifune in an action sequence, which is interesting. I wish Criterion would use pictures on its chapter lists. When I want to access a certain scene and am unfamiliar with the movie it is hard to do based on chapter names that make no sense to me. Other than that, no qualms about the rest of the DVD.Next, I'd love to see HIDDEN FORTRESS on DVD. Criterion, are you listening ?"
Stupid friends are dangerous
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 09/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sequel to Akira Kurosawa's classic "Yojimbo" is very different in tone -- rather than a straightforward grizzled-anti-hero-cleans-up-the-town tale, it's a comic story about the grizzled hero getting stuck on a ship of fools. While it's Kurosawa's lightest samurai movie, it's still a solid action/drama flick with plenty of comedy sprinkled in.
A gang of idealistic young nobles are gathered in a decaying house, talking about how they are trying to battle local corruption. Suddenly a scruffy warrior (Toshirô Mifune) who calls himself Sanjûrô Tsubaki, appears and tells them who is lying and who isn't -- and that after confiding in the treacherous superintendant, they're being set up for an ambush.
After he saves their butts and drags the none-too-bright young men into hiding, he begins concocting a plan to save one young man's uncle, who is being held as a political hostage. After rescuing the lord's wife and daughter, Sanjuro and his band of fools continue with their plots to save him from the evil superintendant -- and he teaches his bumbling co-conspirators that exalted social position isn't what keeps you alive...
Kurosawa isn't known for having made goofball comedies, but there's a definite comic flair to this film, from the pampered prisoner offering nuggets of wisdom to the silent "happy dance" that all the young noblemen do. At the same time, there's a poignant note to Sanjuro's regrets about the men he's killed -- including men much like himself.
Even steeped in comedy, Kurosawa's creativity is still intact -- to give the feel that people are running, he shows short, rapid shots of several young men running down different streets. There are a few flaws (a lot of people get cut down without a speck of blood) but only a really determined nitpicker would let it bug them. And the finale is a shatteringly brutal scene, reminiscent of a western shoot-out, where you almost expect Sanjuro to put on a white cowboy hat and spit.
Mifune is wonderful as the grubby, grumpy samurai who is like an "unsheathed blade," and who has more brains than his little gang. He gives the character a lazy, languid air, sort of like an unexploded land mine. His followers are well-acted, though they don't have much individual personality. And small supporting roles -- like the kindly, prim noblewoman and the friendly prisoner in his little closet -- are very well-drawn.
Lurking under the comic flourishes is an intelligent film with likable characters, solid writing, and plenty of action. "Sanjuro" is as good as the film before it, though in a slightly different way."
Slow beginning, but nice build up with a satisfying conclusi
Jack Vance | 06/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have been enjoying classic Japanese samurai films from childhood, and I have come to appreciate them more as I grow older.
This film is a must for those of you who appreciate a wry sense of humor and non verbal expression of wit. Toshiro Mifune (Sanjuro) plays the part of a jaded, cynical, but paradoxically honorable samurai to the hilt. The nine younger samurai reminded me of lion cubs who bound and growl with bravado while not realizing that they haven't the skills to bring down a sick sheep. Toshiro Mifune is the king of the pride, who gruffly smacks them back in line with his biting sarcasm.
My favorite character, however, is the wife of the kidnapped chamberlain whom the ten are trying to rescue. Her exaggerated but believable nobility and gentle femininity cow even the deadly and hardened Mifune, making him act like a school boy who is caught picking his nose.
All in all, the brief but stunning climax at the end of the film, with it's casual anticlimax, left me chuckling and applauding Kurasawa yet again."
Yet another Masterpiece
Ping Lim | Christchurch | 05/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a follow-up to Kurosawa's Yojimbo. This edition is brilliant as it has been digitally remastered and that we have the option of choosing either Dolby 2.1 or Dolby 5.1 for the sound. At last, we get to enjoy this classic masterpiece at its best. Mifune is as charismatic as always and the soundtrack helps to build up the legend that he has become as the leaderless samurai who simply called himself "Sanjuro". Yet, he steps into a difficult situation where the followers of a clan is to be annihilated. It's never been explained why he wants to assist the nine hapless and totally inexperienced samurais but he stays on to give them a helping hand to defeat another clan that's far more powerful and conniving than the earlier clan. Once again, Kurosawa thrives in bringing out to the forefront different elements of human natures. Ultimately, it's really survival of the fittest. Whilst Sanjuro is unkempt and uncultured, in the end, it's to be seen that he's really an unpolished diamond; a samurai with a heart of gold. The movie is entertaining to watch, funny at times and mostly, an anthropological study of humans at their best and worst. Once Sanjuro finishes what he sets up to do, he disappears into thin air and the person he saved admires him for being wise, for not wishing to be trapped into a clan with responsibilities but that he simply can be a free man. An absolute must if you are a Kurosawa's fan. Simply mesmerising!"
E. A Solinas | 03/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Companion piece to 1961's nihilist comedy *Yojimbo*. Not so much a sequel or prequel but rather a redux sort of thing. *Yojimbo* was a boffo hit in Japan (and drew raves from all over the world), and Kurosawa, whose quest for cinematic art never precluded showmanship, gave the audience more of what it wanted: even more action, more comedy, more Toshiro Mifune than in the previous movie. A legitimate criticism of *Sanjuro* is that it somewhat lacks the originality of *Yojimbo*, in particular the End-Of-The-World rancidity in tone, atmosphere, and characters. The liner notes in Criterion's DVD even go so far as to call this movie "sunny" (what an insult! Mifune's samurai would cut your head off if he heard you call him that). "Sunny" is not the apt adjective to describe the sudden, explosive violence in the film; the body-count is too appallingly high to laugh off. The violence here still hurts, and there's a lot more of it here than in *Yojimbo*. Kurosawa may have become weary of the whole samurai genre: a very nice patrician lady admonishes Sanjuro with "good swords stay in their sheaths"; he remembers this advice following the satirically bloody, over-the-top climax. The slice-and-dice duel between Sanjuro and his enemy is, I think, Kurosawa's way of saying, "You want violent action? I'LL give you violent action!!" Though it's designed to elicit shocked guffaws, the evident disgust with the whole samurai mindset leaves the larger impression. For that matter, the old "code of honor" is represented by 9 good-hearted samurai who also happen to be idiots. Just because there might be something worth fighting for here, unlike in *Yojimbo*, the bloody work required to ensure the victory of Good still leaves a bloody stain on the psyche. (Significantly, there was no "three-peat" in the Sanjuro series.) Considering all that, the amazing thing is how entertaining and funny *Sanjuro* remains. Of particular note is how discommoded Mifune appears whenever a pair of very civilized ladies (i.e., the antithesis of himself) show up. When the 9 good samurai keep waking Mifune up with their excited gibbering is also a classic. *Sanjuro* is a minor masterpiece fully deserving of standing alongside *Yojimbo* on your shelf."