5.0 out of 5 stars KAGAMUSHA as ART
This double-dvd shows you the genious and passion of Akira Kirasawa on Disc 2. I suggest viewing the second disc before watching the movie. It will enhance your appreciation for the movie as 'art'. Kirasawa the 'painter'and artist (visionary)can be seen on Disc 2. Then while watching the movie you will see his paintings come to life. One learns a little something of the...
Published on March 23 2010 by jamesbonds
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The shadow warrior
Kagemusha is another entry in Kurosawa's decades-long string of Samurai movies and is replet with rank-n-file anti-war themes: empires are fleeting, stubborn pride proves costly, and human life is cheap. Although not without its problems in pacing and stiffness, it is better than some of his more famous films, though no where near as good as Ran. The plot: The warlord...
Published on June 28 2001 by Noctem
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The shadow warrior,
5.0 out of 5 stars KAGAMUSHA as ART,
This review is from: Kagemusha (Criterion Collection) (DVD)This double-dvd shows you the genious and passion of Akira Kirasawa on Disc 2. I suggest viewing the second disc before watching the movie. It will enhance your appreciation for the movie as 'art'. Kirasawa the 'painter'and artist (visionary)can be seen on Disc 2. Then while watching the movie you will see his paintings come to life. One learns a little something of the creative proccess of creating a great movie by so doing . JR
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine precursor to the classic "Ran",
The strong visuals should be obvious - an Akira Kurosawa film with no strong visuals is like a Monet painting with poor use of color. The battle scenes are stunning and seem to come out of a nightmare, with rifleman shooting down on soldiers with a bright light flashing behind them. The colored armor of Takeda's men were also nicely picked and, as Kurosawa would later do with "Ran", give their presense a hauntingly beautiful yet horrifying tone. The final scene at the Battle of Nagashino (which was wrongfully nitpicked in Stephen Turnbull's Osprey book of the battle) chooses to show us only the aftermath of the battle, with shots of cavalry charging to the gunners and then cutting to the horrified expressions of those who watch the unfolding massacre of Japan's greatest army. The shot of the fields of dead is some thing that could only have come out of the nightmare of war.
I think the strongest part of the film, though, were the characters. The film has a slew of fascinating characters, from Takeda's generals (each with their own personality) right down to the rifleman who shot Takeda. Even the spies from Oda and Tokugawa interact and talk like real people, and I can't think of any one in this film I easily forget. I especially liked Oda Nobunaga, and I think this film has the best portrayal I've ever seen of him. He can be seen walking out with his army and stopping briefly to listen to a Christian priest give a prayer. There is another part where he rides around on an Arab horse, followed by a scene where he offers Tokugawa Ieyasu a glass of Western wine (poor Tokugawa chokes on it!).
The best character is, of course, the shadow warrior himself. The actor did a wonderful job of playing Takeda and the imposter, and even though being a common thief that nearly quits his job in the beginning, you find yourself growing to like him. The scene where he confesses to the concubines he is an imposter, knowing they'll take it as a joke, and then winks at a general was hilarious! Also, notice in the scene where a retainer describes to Takeda's nephew what the meaning of the clan flag is...the imposter is listening just as intently as the boy is! He also comes out strong in the second-to-last battle sequence, where he watches as men fight and die for a man they strongly admire. The final Kurosawa metaphor at the end (which I won't describe because its a serious spoiler) also gives the whole point of the story. The man tried to undertake a role that was perhaps too big for him, a role only one man could really play.
Overall, I was very impressed with this movie, and I would definately recommend it as viewing for those fans of the master of film himself. I hope soon a DVD will be released of it and I will be able to add it to my growing Akira Kurosawa DVD set. In the meantime, I happily own a video copy for viewing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
By A Customer
In the case of 'Kagemusha' it will probably help if you are something of a film buff, but even those who aren't will probably be impressed with it on some level.
5.0 out of 5 stars Takeda Shingen (Born 1521 - Died 1573),
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had waited....,
5.0 out of 5 stars A supreme tale of the warrior mentality,
In fact, so strong is the focus that the hapless title character (the shadow warrior)--a common thief who is a perfect lookalike for a mighty warlord, who recruits the thief and is then used by the warlord's retainers as a stand-in after the warlord's death--himself ultimately takes on the psychology of a warrior. And this is true even after he is dismissed from service, after the ordained three years of his deception as the warlord have passed.
Nowhere else in film has the psychology of the warrior been portrayed so sharply, with so much focus, with so much depth--not even in other Kurosawa films, although Seven Samurai is the sine qua non of samurai films. Yet here, in Kagemusha, we see the workings of the minds on both sides, whereas Seven Samurai's power comes from its depiction of how samurais use their intelligence to fight and outwit a completely insubstantial enemy--that is, the bandits, who are never shown up close or presented as anything other than marauding forces.
Kagemusha will never be equalled in its portrayal of the intensity of the warrior spirit. Add to that the astounding vision of a filmmaker who knows more than any other how, where, and why a battle scene's power is derived. As well, there is perfect production design, costuming, and set pieces. There is the obvious attention to detail in capturing the entire world of feudal Japan. All of these together make for a film so riveting, so well done, it is impossible to say anything bad about the film. It just can't be done.
This is a must see for all serious students of film, and for all those who love a great adventure, and for all those who just flat out love movies.
4.0 out of 5 stars samurai epic,
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and impressive, like a Mountain, but still moving,
The Titel "Kagemusha" means Shadow of the Warrior.
All in all, this is not only a great story, a great visual joy, but also a momentum of japanese society and military, and a melancholic view of mans nature.
When does a compilation-box of Kurosawa movies appear on dvd? I just can't wait!
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Ran, but what is?,
But I digress. Kagemusha is based upon a real story in 16th century Japan about a clan whose leader had a double or shadow warrior ('Kagemusha') and which was wiped out in a battle with another clan. Kurosawa focuses on the double and his attempts at acting as Lord Shingen for three years: both the original Lord and the double are played by Tatsuya Nakadai ('Yojimbo,' 'Ran') in a masterful performance.
Indeed, the double's experience as the Lord is really the heart of the film, not the battles or clan rivalries per se. As in many Kurosawa films, class plays a subtle yet important role: the double was a thief who now must impersonate a Lord, and ironies abound thoughout the film (but especially at the end) about the way the double is in many ways more noble than the original Lord. Besides class there is another subtext to the film, namely the construction of identity itself: in perhaps the best scene of the film, the double has a very scary dream near the end where he is confronted with the original Lord - perfectly embodying the double's doubts about his own identity.
As for the basics of the film, the viewer can hardly be dissapointed. The cinematography was spectacular - the battle scenes of course, but also many beautifully constructed scenes near or on the sea as well. Kurosawa's use of traditional Japanese instruments, especially the drum in the final battle scene is awesome, and the costumes and art direction were outstanding.
The only serious fault with Kagemusha is its length: it could have been cut by a good 20 minutes and not lost anything. Yet that is really the only criticism I have here - all the rest is great. See it.
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Kagemusha (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] by Akira Kurosawa (Blu-ray - 2009)
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