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  • Three Outlaw Samurai (The Criterion Collection)
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Three Outlaw Samurai (The Criterion Collection)

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Three Outlaw Samurai

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Superb and (deceptively?) simple March 20 2013
By Little Roy Blue - Published on
I bought Three Outlaw Samurai "cold" -- that is, without ever having seen it before, or even hearing anything about it. I was half-expecting to be disappointed, but I wasn't. This movie is just plain great.

The story concerns a group of peasants who kidnap the daughter of a corrupt local official, in the hopes of attracting his attention to the plight of the poor townsfolk. Several samurai tough guys happen to be in the area, and the plot hinges on whether these samurai will decide to help the peasants. While this scenario seems quite simple on the surface -- and I suppose it is -- director Hideo Gosha handles it expertly, generating lots of suspense and sympathy for the characters.

Surprisingly, some commentators consider this film an inferior "rip-off" of Kurosawa fare like Seven Samurai. I have a couple of responses to that. First, I don't think Kurosawa really invented the samurai genre, or even the type of world-weary samurai character so often played by Toshiro Mifune (e.g., the samurai character of Tange Sazen predates Kurosawa's stuff). Also, because Three Outlaw Samurai is very short, violent, and "punchy," it has a different feel/tone from Seven Samurai and similar Kurosawa epics, so I don't think the two films really conflict or negate each other at all. I enjoy both styles quite a bit.

Meanwhile, Criterion's DVD of Three Outlaw Samurai has a very nice print that highlights the beauty of the film's black-and-white photography. (I'm kicking myself for not buying the Blu-Ray instead, but hey, I had no idea I'd like this so much!) There aren't any great special features to speak of, though the DVD comes with an essay that provides interesting details on Gosha's career and the TV show that inspired this film. So on the whole, this DVD gets my enthusiastic seal of approval.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Tale Well Told Dec 23 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on
The reviewer of 05/05/12 gave an excellent assessment of this film, with background, and I suggest you read that essay. My own reaction is very positive, though I have some minor quibbles. The story revolves the discontents of peasants, who kidnap the daughter of the local headman in order to have some leverage for their protest -- they hope shortly to present a petition of grievances to the overall lord of the region, who will shortly be passing through. An itinerant samurai offhandedly takes up their cause, only to become more deeply committed to it and in the end drawing two other fellow warriors to pledge their support as well. Romantic subplots affect the thoughts and actions of each of the three. This film is the first by director Hideo Gosha, whose most famous effort (at least on this side of the Pacific) is Sword of the Beast, and the storytelling is sharp and compact: We walk in right in the middle of the action, and scene transitions are sometimes abrupt with the plot advanced offstage but conveyed intelligently, in the manner of a short story rather than a novel. The cinematography is excellent, as is the attention to detail, and the film packs a good number of twists and shifts for its hour and a half length. Some have dismissed it as derivative of the films of Akira Kurosawa -- in particular, that it's a poor man's Seven Samurai. And certainly in places this movie has a Kurosawa look, but so what? And as for it being a lesser imitation of Seven Sam, it's simply not. The story is similar but not identical, and the fact that a given film might not be as good as Citizen Kane or Godfather II is hardly a reason for dismissing it. I do wish that the attitudes of the entire peasant community were depicted more fully, and at times the principal women are difficult to distinguish. Those nits aside, this is an excellent if ultimately dark film
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI: Equal Parts Slashing and Thinking. Dec 20 2014
By William F. Flanigan Jr. - Published on
Film = 3 (three) stars; restoration = 5 (five) stars. Director Hideo Gosha has conjured up yet another version of a samurai sub-cultural way of life in this 1964 photoplay. The interactions between different food-chain classes of sword swingers and different/aberrant samurai honor codes within the same samurai class make for welcomed breaks between typical (more or less) slashing scenes. The plot revolves around three samurai who are torn between the plight of the down trodden (as usual) peasants (here the lowest of the low class from which these samurai seemed to have emerged (and would probably like to--but can not--forget) and the local rulers who pay slasher salaries. (What might make for a far more interesting script would be to explore how peasants managed to become skilled and educated samurai equal to those who have inherited samurai class standing). Acting is for the most part dynamic (and not role-based stereotypical--facial expressions are hard to forget), and directing/editing is first rate. Cinematography (wide-screen, black and white) and scene lighting are excellent. Music is a bit jarring, but otherwise OK. Subtitles seem reasonably close to the actual dialog which is a challenge to always comprehend due to the use of regional slang. Worth watching once. WILLIAM FLANIGAN, PhD.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Samurai Film April 1 2014
By The Gootch! - Published on
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I love samurai movies! I named my dog Yojimbo. This is a good movie with three very different samurai. I have watched it several times and no doubt will again. It's not in the same field as 7 Samurai or Hidden Fortress. But it is entertaining and the film looks great. If you like black and white samurai flicks you will like this.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A fan of 50's Japanese Movies July 28 2012
By Joseph C. Martinak - Published on
Verified Purchase
If you enjoy actual stories, non-GCI action, an actual plot-you will enjoy this movie. This is on line with movies made by other great of that time. The price is right, great way to spend a few hours. Examines the truth of some people who will not fight for a cause. Story line is about the same as high plains drifter that comes out 20 years later. Great movie-glad to have it in my collection.