Customer Reviews


132 Reviews
5 star:
 (89)
4 star:
 (33)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the master
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...
Published on May 16 2010 by E. A Solinas

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "I want three coffins... make that four".
"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...
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by Steven Y.


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the master, May 16 2010
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
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. It even includes the brilliant two-part judo saga "Sanshiro Sugata," which were only Kurosawa's first and third movies in his long-ranging career.

Fortunately the box set also emphasizes Kurosawa's movies set in then-current times: it includes darker-hued, gritty movies like "Stray Dog," the propagandic "The Most Beautiful," "I Live In Fear," "Ikiru," "Scandal," "No Regrets For Our Youth," "The Bad Sleep Well," "Drunken Angel," and "High And Low." If anything, these movies have a wider range of topics -- Kurosara delves into darker facets of human nature with stories of revenge, family strife, police work, a dying man's last months, political destruction of people's lives, gangsters and corporate corruption.

But he also strays outside the basic outlines with stories like the lighthearted "One Wonderful Sunday", which focuses on a couple of lovers having a cheap day out in postwar Japan, and "Dodesukaden's" poignant tales of poverty-stricken people in a slum. The most brilliant of the contemporary movies: "Madadayo," the uplifting story of an elderly professor and his students.

"AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" is basically a big collection of Kurosawa's movies, mostly of his more obscure works (including the early stuff) but containing most of his best-known works as well. Most of these have been released by Criterion before, but there are a few that haven't except as some old VHS tapes -- and the entire collection gives a very comprehensive look at the myriad styles and stories that Akira Kurosawa conjured like a magician.

Even from the earliest movies, Kurosawa imbues his movies with many layers: artistic flourishes that were unique at the time (aiming a camera at the sun), blood-spattering action, sly wit and powerful and insightful direction (the final exquisitely bittersweet scene of "Ikiru"). And he got some truly brilliant actors for these movies, most notable Toshiro Mifune -- he played a wide range of brilliant roles, including a crazed bandit, a "red beard" doctor, a powerful general, a Macbethian warlord, and a brilliant nameless ronin. Among others.

But as for the downsides -- for some reason it's missing films like "Ran," "Dreams" and the underrated "Dersu Uzala." And there don't seem to be many on-disc extras here -- there's new digital transfers, a "remembrance," and a book called "The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa,"

"AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa" shows the considerable range of this legendary director, with movies both famous and obscure -- ideally it would have had a few more, but it's still an outstanding collection.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
By 
J. H. Sweet - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
The humor in this story is wonderful, even the macabre humor of the dog carrying the human hand in its mouth while trotting along to fairly spunky music. I also love the funnier fight sequences, which seem to come right out of clown school and resemble football skirmishes instead of battles. In several of the scenes, it appears that the swordsmen are miming roasting marshmallows instead of fighting with their weapons. Nice addition of lightness to a serious tale. Our hero sticking around after he has discontinued his services purely for "the entertainment" also accentuates the humor aspect of this movie.
The mix of character types is also interesting including a dominatrix, a prodigal son, a damsel in distress, several amusing drunks, and many bumbling idiots. The ease in which our hero is able to manipulate these human beings is extremely unbelievable; however, many aspects of this film fall into that category and it is still a wonderful story. This is one of those rare instances in which certain trite, far-fetched, and predictable elements are actually good and serve to enhance the story.
The nature symbolism is a nice addition to this film including the cleansing rain allowing us to shift gears from Act I to Act II, and the dust storm, which precedes the more unpredictable part of the story serving to unsettle and disorient us.
Finally, the shadowy, light dancing, night fires scene is amazing, intensifying the town's debauchery and our hero finally stepping up to get involved in the action before ultimately getting caught in his own web. This scene is perfect, like an expertly lighted stage drawing us into Act III.
I have only described a few of the wonderful features of this film. There are many others, which warrant several viewings to truly appreciate the complexities of this story. For those who enjoy this movie, I also recommend the sequel, Sanjuro, which is equally well done.
J.H. Sweet, author of The Fairy Chronicles, and Kurosawa fan.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars save for a few scratches in the print, this is a great DVD, July 19 2004
By 
Lakan Kildap (Miami, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Grim and hilarious, April 25 2004
By 
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.
'You pretend to be heartless, but you're really a nice guy,' a peasant mockingly accuses Sanjuro, the jaded expert swordsman who is the 'yojimbo' of the title. Sanjuro seems very representative of Kurosawa's vision - although he is unhesitant in taking life, and extremely detached in regard to the large-scale web of treachery he initiates, there is an unkillable spark of humanity somewhere inside him. After dispensing of the villians, he spares one young cohort, angrily chastising him: "Go home! A long life eating rice is best!"
The cast of villians is classic, showing Bond-like touches of distinction; Sanjuro's best and most menacing adversary, acted with a Kabuki-like poise and decadence, carries a pistol. In his strangely touching death scene, he idly asks Sanjuro: "You're a good person, aren't you...Please, could I have my gun; I feel sort of naked without it..." He then prepares to shoot Sanjuro, finds he doesn't have the strength, and succumbs to death almost with a sigh. My main complaint in this area is that many of the villians are killed at once, with little fanfare, which is in keeping with the way in which death is treated in the film, but still seems disappointing.
While very little is explictly humorous, Kurosawa has a way of deriving very subtle black humor from the horror of the situation itself, and the very small extent to which most people are fazed by that horror. Sanjuro's casual attitude towards death is echoed by many of the characters, and I found myself laughing more than once.
The movie's one main flaw it has in common with the Seven Samurai - although it may be shorter, it's still very long. A lot of space is taken up by unimportant conversations, which aren't redeemed by an exceptionally realistic ear for dialogue (although this may be more striking in the original Japanese). Especially considering its bleak import, it doesn't seem to have earned the right to go on for so long, but it's still a very good film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars "A good sword is best kept sheathed.", March 18 2004
By 
I've never been fond of sequels, and when I found out Akira Kurosawa, a film maker I respect and admire more than any other, had done a sequel to his classic "Yojimbo," I had to wonder just how it was. I saw it and needless to say I was very impressed. This is with out a doubt probably one of the best sequels I've ever seen.
Sequels are commonly one of two things: 1) a rehash of the first movie, or 2) a continuation of a story that should have ended with the first film. "Sanjuro" is none of the two - instead, its just another adventure for our ronin friend Sanjuro in his quest for money. This time he finds himself accidentally nearby where some clueless samurai retainers are trying to figure out who in their clan is plotting to take over while their lord is away. Sanjuro steps in to help them out (almost out of aggravation at just how incompetant his new acquaintances are). He guesses correctly that it is the Super-Intendant and not the Chamberlain (as originally guessed) who is the traitor, and the story continues from there.
"Sanjuro" has all the right doses, and even more, of what you got in "Yojimbo." There are more fight scenes - or perhaps I should say there are more chances for Toshiro Mifune to slash through a crowd of hapless enemies. There are also more chances for our hero to figure out traps and plan ways out of sticky situations. With out a doubt, I think Sanjuro ranks as one of the most clever heroes I've ever seen on film, and you just get a joy at his wit and quick-thinking (I especially like how he got the villains to throw petals into the stream).
I would suggest any one who loved "Yojimbo" to give this film a good chance. It's just as enjoyable as its predecessor, and hey - if it has the name Akira Kurosawa on it, it can't be the least bit bad.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Yo Jimbo!, March 10 2004
By A Customer
I'll confess - I saw Leone's FIST FULL OF DOLLARS before the original YOJIMBO and enjoyed the western very much (I own the DVD). However, after seeing YOJIMBO, my vision of FIST FULL has declined, shrunken slightly in the shadow of its father.
For a foreing language film, YOJIMBO is so visual and superbly made that a toddler could follow it, but it's complex and intriguing enough that an adult would want to. The story is lean and mean, and, unlike nearly every move made today, no unnecessary character and backstory junk is floating around to cloud the narrative.
Most foreign films and classics are great - for students and buffs. This one can be enjoyed by anyone. If you haven't seen it, get up right now. Get in your car. Speed to your local video rental store. Buy the movie-style microwave popcorn. Go home, and buy this thing off Amazon, because it should be in your collection. If you're so anxious that you can't wait until UPS arrives, well, I guess you shoulda thought of that before you left the video store, genius!
See this. Own it. It doesn't get much better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Instant classic, Jan. 24 2004
Yojimbo is yet another Kurosawa classic, one whose international reputation has led it to be remade a number of times. No number of remakes will ever come close to the quality of this one. From the opening shots of a grubby, wandering Mifune as Sanjuro, to its downbeat ending, there's not a false note in Kurosawa's Eastern-Western. Nowadays the plot of a masterless samurai turning two warring sides of a town against each other is well known, so Yojimbo has lost a little of the impact it must have had upon its release. This in no way detracts from the quality of the film, however. Mifune is perfect as the scratching, grumbling, often bemused Sanjuro, and a fine cast is his equal. Tatsuya Nakadai is memorable as a samurai-cum-gunfighter, threatening the town with a gun he carries around like a toy. Daisuke Kato is another standout, playing the brother of one of the town leaders, with his peculiar looks and mannerisms.
Kurosawa, as usual, shows his absolute command of the medium, eliciting note-perfect performances and a stunning range of shots; sand-swept streets and spying neighbours abound. He maintains the dark - and blackly humourous - tone of the film consistent throughout. The memorable scene of Sanjuro's entrance to the town as a dog goes by with a severed hand in its mouth is both hilarious and disturbing at the same time.
Criterion's release of Yojimbo is much better than their subsequent Sanjuro effort. The picture here is crisp and the subtitles are good for the most part. Yojimbo is easily one of Kurosawa's best films (and that's saying a lot, in a back catalogue of mostly excellent films). If you haven't seen it, buy it. If you have bought it, watch it again!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars No Yojimbo, but..., Jan. 24 2004
Kurosawa's sequel to his classic Yojimbo doesn't pack the same punch that its predecessor did. That's not to say Sanjuro isn't worth the time; far from it. Mifune, as before, growls and scratches to brilliant effect in this considerably lighter, more tongue-in-cheek film. As the masterless Sanjuro, Mifune ends up coaching nine foolhardy samurai in their quest to rescue the leader of their clan.
This time Kurosawa emphasises comedy over the bleakness of Yojimbo. It's an interesting shift in tone and the movie moves quickly enough, though there's a few too many scenes of the samurai getting ready to run off into more trouble before Sanjuro cooly suggests otherwise. The moments of action are blindingly fast and as stunning as they were presented in Yojimbo, perhaps even more so. Mifune slices through thirty-odd baddies in literally moments. As always, whenever he's on the screen he's a mesmerising presence. However the supporting cast equip themselves well, particularly Tatsuya Nakadai as Muroto. The scenes between Nakadai and Mifune are electrifying - a tense atmosphere prevalent throughout - leading to an unforgettable finale that is an all-time classic scene.
The Criterion DVD isn't as good as some of their other Kurosawa releases - notably Yojimbo and Seven Samurai - and the picture is far from perfect, but it's not like we have a choice of releases here.
The DVD aside, as a companion piece to Yojimbo, Sanjuro is an entertaining watch and another feather in the cap for Kurosawa, one of the greatest directors who ever lived.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Yojimbo, Jan. 10 2004
By 
D. A Butler (Murfreesboro, tn United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Aftering watching Yojimbo, (which I thought was a little campy), Sanjuro puts in a more serious and deliberate plot. Although I was hoping for more background on the situation that Toshiro Mifune's character is getting into, it helps to understand that events like this were happening all over Japan in that time period. (the usual political intrigue, deception, usurping, etc) That aside, the story is told brilliantly, the troubled samurai of Mifune doing what good he can, all the while being surrounded by incompetents and evil men. His conscience takes the form of an older lady that he helps to rescue, and after receiving bits of wisdom from her (she immediately discerns his true character and gives him a short phrased bit of advice) his every action is dictated by his desire to heed her wisdom. Mifune's samurai then has to impart this lesson onto the bumbling young group of samurai with a horrifying display of martial skill used against the enemy, slaughtering a dozen men himself without a scratch, and later on at the end of the film, a 'quick-draw' with swords, which is so fast that you have to pause the motion to see where the hands of the actors are. The entire film sums up a part of the Bushido code itself that speaks about the level of skills that a trainee, adept and master have, from ignoramus (and therefore a useless person) to one so skilled that it becomes impossible to impart the accumulated knowledge/wisdom even by teaching. Mifune's samurai never seems overly concerned with his own life or the risks he takes to save the town from itself.
As for the DVD itself, agreed with others that the lack of extra features is the only reason for 4 stars instead of 5. The picture quality is excellent, the film quality itself is great, and the subtitles are well done. So far my favorite movie by Kurosawa next to Ran and Seven Samurai.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 214 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Sanjuro (Criterion Collection)
Sanjuro (Criterion Collection) by Akira Kurosawa (DVD - 2007)
CDN$ 42.99 CDN$ 32.72
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews