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Sanjuro (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)

Toshirô Mifune , Tatsuya Nakadai , Akira Kurosawa    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
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Sanjuro (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection) + Rashomon + The Hidden Fortress (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Description


Akira Kurosawa's sequel to Yojimbo is more lighthearted and less cynical, a rousing adventure with Toshirô Mifune reprising his role as the scruffy mercenary who becomes an unlikely big brother to a troupe of nine naive samurai. Shuffling into a secret meeting where the proud young men discuss the graft choking their clan, Mifune's Sanjuro scratches his scraggly beard and distractedly rubs his neck like some common peasant while giving them advice on appearances and truths: "People aren't what they seem," he warns the dubious lads. "Be careful." Naturally they aren't, and Sanjuro grudgingly adopts the well-meaning but hopelessly ill-equipped heroes, giving the starry-eyed youths a series of lessons in real-world honor and respect while saving their skins from reckless attacks and impulsive plans. It isn't the subtlest of Kurosawa's films--the repetitious lessons and speeches delivered to the thickheaded samurai are rather obvious--but it's one of his most entertaining. Mifune, gruffly at ease with the boys, is hilariously discomforted in the presence of a cultured lady, who sees through his shaggy exterior and imparts a little wisdom of her own. Mifune bounds into action in a number of impressive sword fights--wonderfully choreographed lightning-quick battles in which Mifune leaps all over the widescreen image--but an increasing sense of waste, of futility, hangs over the action scenes, culminating in a tense but meaningless duel of honor. The accompanying trailer on the DVD features brief behind-the-scenes glimpses of Kurosawa directing Mifune through an action sequence. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

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 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.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the master May 16 2010
Akira Kurosawa is one of those directors that requires absolutely no introduction at all... but I'll do it anyway.

In short, Kurosawa was one of the most legendary film directors in cinematic history -- he not only inspired other great directors, but he splintered your basic movie conventions ("Rashomon"), inspired others (the wipe! Slow motion action!) and created the standard for Japanese action, drama and historical movies. "AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" is basically what it sounds like: twenty five movies by Kurosawa (including some never before released in the U.S.).

It includes all the classic films that Kurosawa is so famous for -- "Seven Samurai," "Sanjuro," "Yojimbo" and "The Hidden Fortress." Kurosawa packs the movies with with brilliant stories of samurai, warlords, feisty princesses, goofy peasants, a wandering nameless ronin who has a penchant for cleaning out filthy corrupt towns, and a band of samurai who are trying to save a village of not-entirely-blameless peasants. The best of them: "Rashomon," in which a woman is raped and a man is murdered, but his killer's identity is the subject of some debate.

And then there are the period movies that people don't usually mention as quickly: "Kagemusha," "The Lower Depths," "Throne of "Blood," "Red Beard," and the Noh-inspired "The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail." With the exception of the last one (a semi-comedic story about a nobleman trying to avoid being killed by his brother), these stories are a bit darker in theme, with lots of cruel warlords, foul Edo apartment buildings, an arrogant young doctor in Edo who clashes with his new boss, and a Japanese-themed retelling of Macbeth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Destiny is as Simple as the Toss of a Stick Aug. 4 2005
The beginning of this tale, when our hero tosses a stick into the air to see which way it lands to choose his path, is just one of the many elements which makes this such an amazing story and one my favorites of Kurosawa's many masterpieces. What the bodyguard chooses to do first with his newfound independence is quite surprising and ambitious, like piecing together an amazingly complex jigsaw puzzle made of human nature, or staging a performance of an epic masterpiece with no previous management, production, or directing skills. But I guess he may as well tackle a mountain, since there is not much use starting small with his skills and personality. As he orchestrates the deception, our hero is much like a master puppeteer with exquisite timing and talent to incite the mayhem to achieve his goal.
While the basic theme of this story is not unique - the result of greed, manipulation of others, and the changing of the world (tradition vs. progression) - many factors add an interesting and unusual charm to this film. There are plots within plots, surprising deception, perfectly paced mounting tension, unpredictable plot twists, stories within stories, distinctive and amusing characters (the big guy with his huge mallet is a lot of fun), the seemingly never-ending face offs, backstabbing, character flaws; and our hero continually placed in the perfect position to observe, listen, and evaluate. Also, the bodyguard's impeccable timing in manipulation of both sides is nice, fulfilling our expectations and keeping the story moving along. What if bodyguards were really like this? (mischievous, brilliant, manipulative) The famous people of the world would be in terrible trouble.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I want three coffins... make that four". Jan. 27 2003
"Yojimbo" is one of the better known films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa because of its notoriety as the inspiration for Clint Eastwood's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) and Bruce Willis' "Last Man Standing" (1996). The film opens with a wandering samurai (Toshiro Mifune) enertering a town being torn apart by bitter business rivals. After being informed of the town's situation by the tavern keeper Gonji (Eijiro Tono), the samurai decides to play both rivals against each other in the hope that they will wipe each other out. The plan works and soon the chaos he causes reaches the terminal point. When the samurai finally leaves the town, he leaves behind a load of business for the local coffin maker and a liberated and grateful town. Yojimbo does not possess the depth of The Seven Samurai (1954) and its jumping back and forth between drama and comedy is a bit jarring at times. Yet, the film succeeds in entertaining and lends credence to the argument that Toshiro Mifune is not only one of the greatest Japanese actors of all-time, but is one of the greatest actors of all-time period. Try and catch this movie on DVD because the clarity of the subtitles are vastly superior to that of the VHS version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I myself am one with those who wonder how on earth this Criterion version of Yojimbo ended up having that huge, ugly scratch mark on the print. It just stops me from giving it a full 5-star mark.
But that aside, this DVD is still a great DVD. It's actually my favorite among the Kurosawa-Mifune movies, simply because it is so much fun. the Mifune swagger, perfectly timed with the catchy beat of the soundtrack, is unforgettable. his huge confidence, his arms still drawn in, his shirt sleeves hanging limp and empty while his enemies menacingly surround him, is almost too funny. The lines I like the most come from the "coffins" chapter, where Mifune tells the wannabes "you have such cute faces", then proceeds to tear through them with ease, then with typical panache, tells the cooper (coffin maker) to make two coffins, no, make that three. I don't think I have seen any Hollywood actor, except perhaps the young Paul Newman, act so cool under stress. Even Clint Eastwood's turn in "A Fistful of Dollars" pales in comparison.
Then of course, the twists and turns as he manipulates both gangs. Even the way he mocks the boss' wife by calling himself a "nobody", taking the name of some vegetable he saw in the garden through the window.
Then his low moments. The way he recovers his strength, the way he prepares to neutralize the enemy's pistol by mastering knife-throwing. You'd think he doesn't stand a chance, until it happens. Those harrowing death scenes. And finally, the sight of Yojimbo leaving town, arms drawn in, sleeves empty and limp on his sides, swaggering to the beat of the soundtrack as the movie ends.
It's worth it. And you can always trade-in that crappy "Last Man Standing" to pay off some of the cost of "Yojimbo". It's a trade I would make anytime.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
How can I review this? It's been reviewed countless times... it is a classic and will always be... along with Sanjuro and the Seven Samurai. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rafael Oei
4.0 out of 5 stars Samurai with a 6 shooter?
Our hero did not use a six shooter. One of the "bad" guys did. This 1961 Black and White widescreen- Japanese- with- English- subtitles- movie starts off slowly setting... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dia
5.0 out of 5 stars Yojimbo
A great edition and a must have for people who enjoy Kurosawa. The extras are very enlightening. Well done criterion collection.
Published 11 months ago by M. Dean
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not dying yet. I have to kill quite a few men first "
Yesterday I saw "Yojimbo" (1961), a beautiful black and white movie directed by Akira Kurosawa. From my point of view, this dvd isn't Kurosawa best movie, but it is nonetheless a... Read more
Published on Dec 26 2007 by M. B. Alcat
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion does it again!
This edition of Yojimbo is the best out there. Just as they do with all digital transfers, Criterion takes only the best transfers from the original films and polishes them to make... Read more
Published on July 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Do You Feel Lucky Kurosawa?
Toshiro Mifune's silk clothes must stink, but don't mess with this guy. He's a killer with a bad hair-do. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by R. A Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Kurosawa's best samurai films
In my own opinion, I find Sanjuro to be one of my favorite films by the Kurosawa. Unlike Yojimbo, which mainly showed the violent side of humans, Sanjuro shows a much deeper... Read more
Published on May 21 2004 by Tom Tsukuhara
4.0 out of 5 stars a cool follow up to yojimbo
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film released shortly after the release of Yojimbo, has the same main character. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Ted
4.0 out of 5 stars A great film that inspired many others
This review is for the Criterion DVD edition of the film.
This movie had scenes that have been imitated in dozens of other films. Read more
Published on April 28 2004 by Ted
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and hilarious
This is a much tighter, sharper film than The Seven Samurai, Kurosawa's more famous work. It's shorter, for one, and more seems to happen. Read more
Published on April 25 2004 by Henry Platte
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