The Shogun Collection [Import]
Starring Sonny ChibaShogun's Samurai (1978 130 mins.)A war erupts between two brother when one is picked over the other to be the shogun. Warriors take to each side swearing devotion to their prospective lords. The plot to pit brother against brother is secretly being controlled by a group of nobles hoping to weaken the power of the Shogunate and restore power to the emperor.Swords of Vengeance (1978 158 mins.)When the young master of Ako Castle draws his sword on the elder he is ordered to dissolve his clan and commit hara-kiri. With the help of the now-masterless Ako warriors the young masters chamberlain begins to plot an elaborate revenge two years in the making. The explosive swordplay battles were choreographed by Sonny Chiba.Shogun's Ninja (1983 115 mins.)Hideyoshi a power hungry warlord sends his war commander to the Momochi fort to destroy its clan and obtain its hidden gold. Two daggers tell where the hidden gold is located. One is in the possession of the head of the Monochi family but who has the other? Wild fight choreography and action ensue.Shogun's Shadow (1989 114 mins.)Tachechiyo embarks on a journey to Edo to participate in an initiation ritual that will mark his passage to manhood. Accompany him on the journey they must combat the advancing army of the Shogunate who doesn't want the young master to reach his destination.System Requirements:Run Time: 517 minsFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: SPORTS/GAMES/MIXED MARTIAL ARTS Rating: NR UPC: 787364746798
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The films are not all of the same genre. Of the four films, two of them (Shogun's Ninja and Shogun's Shadow) fall under the matial arts category, and are reminiscent of "Lone Wolf and Cub" and "Shadow Hunters". The other two, "Shogun's Samurai" and "Sword of Vengence" are historical dramas more in the vein of "The Seven Samurai" and "Chusingura". In fact, "Sword of Vengence" is a variation of the same story as "Chusingura", another retelling of the 47 ronin. The latter two fims are more plot driven and feature far less action. This is just fine by me, as I enjoy both types of samurai film.
Another thing you should know is that Sonny Chiba is not actually the star of any of these films. He plays a supporting role in all of them. So die hard Sonny Chiba fans may be disappointed.
All and all, this is an excellent purchase for fans of Japanese cinema, especially considering the price. Most Japanese films cost a premium (check out the price being asked for any Kurosawa or Lone Wolf and Cub film), so to get four excellent films for the price of one is a steal.
I don't know anything about the distribution company that sells this, and frankly I don't care. I can tell you that the sound and picture quality of all of these films is excellent. There are absolutely no issues there at all. There is an issue with the misleading marketing of these as "Sonny Chiba films" which I've already discussed, and for that this collection should be deducted one, maybe even two stars, but I'm going to go ahead and award it five to offset the unjustified one-star review.
Two of the movies are great historical epic Samurai films from one of Japan's all-time great directors, Kinji Fukasaku. These movies are Shogun's Samurai, and Swords of Vengeance. Expertly directed, very well written, and brought to life by some fantastic actors, both of these movies belong in every Samurai movie fan's collection.
The other two movies are cheesy (by design) 80's action flicks where Samurais and Ninjas can perform superhuman acts (leap tall buildings in a single bound type stuff). They're passable as entertainment as long as you turn your brain off (although Shogun's Shadow does have it's moments - there is the basis of a good script, it just gets overpowered by too much cheese).
The only thing that all four of the movies have in common are supporting roles for Sonny Chiba - who is particularly good in Shogun's Samurai!
The transfers for ALL FOUR of these movies are brilliant! Beautiful anamorphic widescreen, original Japanese language soundtrack with English subtitles - these are some great DVD's! BCI Eclipse has been licensing many different movies and TV series recently, and paying attention to quality. Their licensing deal here with Adness continues that trend. They've come a long way from the "Public Domain" specialists that they used to be (although they still do that as well).
In the end, this set is worth buying for the two Kinji Fukasaku films alone - you can watch the others or, as some have done, sell them on ebay.
The two strongest movies are Swords of Vengeance and Shogun's Samurai, which not surprisingly, were directed by Kinji Fukasaku, and starred Kinnosuke Yorozuya.
The strongest movie of this set is Swords of Vengeance: Fall of Ako Castle (Ako-Jo Danzetsu). It is a re-telling of the tale of the 47 Ronin. Although this version is less detailed than other versions, it hits the highlights and essence of the story. It's well told, well acted, and, the one major deviation from other versions: this one has a great action packed ending.
Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy is a detailed movie you need to really pay attention to follow what's going on, and it's also a good story, with lots of intrigue. It's an all around good movie, but what makes this movie a treat is you get to see Sonny Chiba portray Yagyu Jubei.
Shogun's Shadow: Attack! Shogun Iemitsu is Crazy (Shogun Iemitsu no rasi-Gekitotsuo) is a long hyped-up version of a typical Sonny Chiba televison show from the 1970's and 1980's. If you've never seen Kage No Gundan, or the Yagyu television series, this is kind of what it was like, but 26 episodes packed into 2 hours.
Shogun's Ninja (Ninja Bugeicho Momochi Sandayu) is an okay movie, typical Japanese period piece revenge film, and looks like it was a showcase for Hiroyuki Sanada, action star. I don't think he showed his capabilities in this movie, but I think he matured into one of the best actors in Japan, and by the time he winds own his career, he will be acknowledged as one of the great dramatic actors of Japanese cinema.
The acting is also very good. While the battles do not contain the realism that is now achieved with special effects, they work just as well as anything Kurosawa did in his early days. Of the three, one uses the embarrassing flying leaps that eventually has come to plague good martial arts movies. But in this case it is done very, very sparingly. Therefore it does not kill the film's credibility.
'The Swords of Vengeance' is the telling of the 47 samurai, but under much more believable terms than Hollywood's embarrassing and silly remake. "Shogun's Samurai," tells the tale of the Yagyu's conspiracy to instill Iemitsu as Shogun. Not favored by the dying Shogun as his successor, the Yagyu clan concocts and pulls off a conspiracy that includes assassination and enough deceit to have made Gen. George Custer feel proud.
"Shogun's Shadow," rounds out the tale. Iemitsu is sick and dying. He spends his days in the castle being attended to by his favorite concubine, getting drunk on sake and dispensing cruel governance. Far away his eldest son is being brought to Edo under his order to attend the ceremony marking his passage from childhood to manhood and to be groomed for the Shogunate. But forces are bent on stopping this from happening.
In all, these three have been very good viewing and I recommend them for those fans of Japanese cinema, culture, and samurai legends.