Years before Akira Kurosawa changed the face of cinema with such iconic works as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, he made his start in the Japanese film industry with four popular and exceptional works, created while World War II was raging. All gripping dramas, those rare early films-Sanshiro Sugata; The Most Beautiful; Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two; and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail-are collected here, including a two-part martial arts saga, a portrait of female volunteers helping the war effort, and a kabuki-derived tale of deception. These captivating films are a glorious introduction to a peerless career.
Sanshiro Sugata (Sugata Sanshiro)
Kurosawa's effortless debut is based on a novel by Tsuneo Tomita about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu.
The Most Beautiful (Ichiban utsukushiku)
This portrait of female volunteer workers at an optics plant during World War II, shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory, was created with a patriotic agenda.
Sanshiro Sugata, Part Two (Zoku Sugata Sanshiro)
Kurosawa's first film was such a success that the studio pressured the director into making a sequel.
The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (Tora no o wo fumu otokotachi)
The fourth film from Kurosawa is based on a sacred twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune, with the help of a group of samurai, crossed enemy territory disguised as a monk.