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Chushingura (Widescreen)

Yűz˘ Kayama , Chűsha Ichikawa , Hiroshi Inagaki    Unrated   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Description

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Chushingura means "loyalty," and that potent Japanese theme runs like hot blood throughout this stately samurai epic. It's often called the Gone with the Wind of Japanese cinema, and while that may be a fitting cultural parallel, it gives an inaccurate impression of the film, based on one of Japan's most enduring and oft-interpreted historical events. A simmering, deliberately paced drama set during the Tokugawa shogunate in 1701, it centers on 47 loyal samurai who seek vengeance against the arrogant elder statesman who caused their master's ritual suicide. The now masterless ronin let seasons pass (and the movie occasionally seems just as long) before executing a climactic raid that is both expertly fierce and lethally efficient. Featuring a who's-who of fine Japanese actors, including Kurosawa regulars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, Chushingura bears little resemblance to Kurosawa's action-packed samurai classics. This is a thematically dense, politically complex drama, presented here at its fullest length (207 minutes) and best appreciated after multiple viewings. Masterfully composed with painterly precision, Chushingura weaves its intricate tapestry from time-honored tenets of Japanese culture, offering a challenging but grandly rewarding experience. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

For two hundred years, no other story has captured the hearts and imagination of the Japanese people more than "Chushingura." When Lord Asano is forced by a corrupt lord to commit hara kiri, forty-seven loyal samurai seek vengeance. Often referred to as the "Gone with the Wind" of the Japanese cinema, "Chushingura" is an unparalleled example of the true samurai spirit.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Japanese Saga Sept. 2 2002
Format:DVD
Chusingura (the 47 Ronin) is a tale that is as popular in Japan -and as often produced - as The Christmas Carol is in the U.S. - and just as revealing of cultural assumptions about right and wrong. There are many versions, each focusing on one of the "47 masterless Samurai" who refuse to surrender and face disgrace out of loyalty to their master. The theme (and story) will be familiar because it's been reworked many times ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" to "From Here to Eternity."
If you want to gain insight into the Japanese concept of loyalty and the price of honor above all else this is the one movie you should not miss.
The color photgraphy and scene settings are well done and sound is excellent; the acting is also very good and does not lean heavily on over-emoting that is the sometimes "norm" for Japanese films. Sub-titles are a little light, but easy enough to see and this is one of the more accessible versions (many are not available to Western audiences as more recently they tend to be done for annual TV specfials. You won't need to know the history to follow the story - or get the point.
It's a true story of a proud, old fashioned country Samurai who puts the Samurai Code and personal integrity above politics of reality. He's summoned to the Shogun's castle to do his duty - service to the emperor whole messengers are coming through the territory. A corrupt court official expects and demands a bribe to tell the Samurai what he must know of intricate protocol and is outraged when our hero refuses to bend. The official goads him into drawing his sword in the castle - a capital offense, leading to his forced harikiri - suicide.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Flawed but Enjoyable Epic May 28 2002
Format:DVD
Despite the film's division into two parts, I think the Chushingura is best understood as a complicated story told in three acts.
The first act, culminating in the seppuku of Lord Asano, details the conflict between the young lord and Kira, the Shogun's master of ceremonies, and is, in my opinion, the most interesting as it unfolds logically, tragically, and inevitably towards the spilling of blood in the Shogun's castle. Asano and Kira, at least in this stage of the film, are fully realized and three-dimensional characters, and their conflict can be understood on several levels: idealism versus pragmatism; rural versus urban; and, most centrally, a conflict between different conceptions of honor. Kira is slighted because Asano won't show him the deference he feels he deserves, and Asano cannot accept Kira's attempt to teach him a lesson without fatally wounding his pride. The characters feel real because the situation is developed so carefully, and we as viewers understand why the principal actors behave as they do.
I think the movie bogs down a bit in the second act where the retainers of Asana plot their revenge on Kira. I also feel it is at this point that those unfamiliar with this story may find it difficult to follow the plot. Like the assassination of Thomas Becket in 12th century England, the story of the 47 loyal retainers has left the historian with not only a wealth of primary documents but also of contemporary analysis of exactly how the events were interpreted. Whereas Becket's murder resonated because of the changing perceptions of the limits of temporal power in medieval Europe, the 47 ronin reflect the changing nature of samurai honor following the pacification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate.
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Format:DVD
This movie is fantastic! Set in Tokugawa period Japan, it describes a story, which shook Japan in seventeenth century. Young lord Asano (for those, who do not know the history of samurai, the clan of Asano was a prominent clan assisting Tokugawa in his quest for power) coming from very conservative clan is insulted by a corrupt official. In rage he draws the sword in the Shogunal palace - a grave offence punishable by seppuku. He is ordered to commit suicide without a proper investigation of all facts and his counterparty, lord Kira, lives on. Shogunate orders to abolish Asano clan leaving all samurai ronin and several dosens of samurai swear the revenge. By this time private disputes in Japan were to be resolved by the Shogunate. However, the law and the moral contradicted on this point as both Confucian and samurai codes of honour did not allow samurai to live "under the same sky" with lord Kira, who was the cause of their lord's untimely death. The samurai found themselves in conflict of rules of moral and laws and decided to act pursuant to the former.
Scenery is beautiful and actors' play is amazing. I keep recalling Oishi's time at the teahouse with children and geishas when he is told of one of the samurai (his former subordinate) committing seppuku. He sheds tears yet he manages to conceal this from others! Another powerful scene is when one of samurai is attacked during the raid but saved by his own son. The old samurai rebukes the son, but then we see that he proudly smiles when his son turns away. In addition, the raid schenes have some good fight scenes as well.
As opposed to Holliwood mainstream movies, all feelings in this movie are shown somewhat "indirectly" and every scene has many "sub-contents". I highly recommend this movie to everyone who is interested in serious cinematography: you will find yourselves wanting to rewatch this movie again and again.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great movie...bad dvd
This is one of the best movies about samurais anywhere and provides a masterful telling of the 47 ronin story. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2004 by James Field
1.0 out of 5 stars Technical quality unacceptable
The technical quality of this DVD is dreadful. Images go out of focus, they lack detail, they show interlacing artefacts, and movement is often jerky. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Samurai honor, political intrigue, romance, brilliant cinema
I first saw this film in the 60's in a small theater over 3 hours with one intermission. I never left my seat, in fact I started out sitting in the aisle at the back because the... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2002 by S. Dowler
4.0 out of 5 stars Samurai Code in Jeopardy...
Corruption and the samurai code converge in a collision when an old man who favors greed and lust crosses the road with a young noble samurai. Read more
Published on July 30 2002 by Kim Anehall
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but Lengthy
First off, I really enjoyed this film. Years ago, I'd heard references to its tale and always wanted to see it. Now that I have, I am not disappointed. Read more
Published on March 21 2002 by hvgutman
5.0 out of 5 stars Valorous and powerful tale of heroism
Here is an exquisite spectacle that embodies the spirit of bushido, newly released in stunning brilliance on DVD. Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2001 by R.L. Holly
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This is a terrific epic Samurai film that takes its time telling its story, but the wait is definitely worth it. Not as good as SEVEN SAMURAI (but then what is? Read more
Published on July 29 2001 by JAVG
3.0 out of 5 stars Inagaki's "Chushingura"
"Chushingura" may be Inagaki Hiroshi's best film. It is certainly his most widely known outside Japan. The film is also quite beautiful to see. Read more
Published on June 13 2001 by Michael Hinojos
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Saga of Loyalty!
One of the greatest veiws into the Japanese culture, Chushingura is the story of the 47 Loyal Retainers. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2001 by Dr. Sean
4.0 out of 5 stars .
I do have some qualms with this film. I don't mind it being so incredibly slow-moving, I should probably clarify -- in fact, that's a part of what I enjoy about it. Read more
Published on Dec 18 1999
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