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,
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 Shingen is mortally wounded whilst besieging a fortress. His dying wish is that his dynasty continue. This is accomplished by using an impersonator, Kagemusha (Tatsuya Nakadai), who is a thief with humble ancestry. Kagemusha serves as Shingen's stand-in for three years, improving morale and even helping to win battles. The most impressive feature in Kagemush is the photography along with the splendid costumes. Indeed, outstanding cinematography and convincing sets are a familiar hallmark for Kurosawa. While one can hardly fault the films character development, for a war film, the pace is slow -- very slooow. Kagemusha was an expensive film by Japanese standards, and Kurosawa had alienated himself from Japanese studios with his cutting comments about their uncompromising attitude towards fimmaking. So unfortunatley (and ironically), he turned to the crass commerical master himself, George Lucas (as well as Francis Ford Coppola). Both are credited as executive producers for the "international" version of Kagemusha. Kagemusha was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Art Direction.
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",
Just before "Ran," Kurosawa got American funding for this movie about a "shadow warrior" who was assigned to impersonate Takeda Shingen should he die. This was to keep the Takeda clan's border secure and prevent enemies (of which Takeda had many) from invading. It is a wonderful film, and has two very strong points: the visuals, and the characters.
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
Regardless of its length and broad assumption that viewers will have some understanding of sixteenth century Japanese feudal systems, this remains Kurosawa's best film - better, even, than 'Ran'. This is a director whose entire catalogue often pivots on imagery and metaphor, but what sets this film apart is the sheer mastery of its cinematography and incomparable attention to detail; some might say lavish attention. The scenes with warriors passing across an orange sun as light filters through to the foreground, the scenes of warrior horsemen riding along a beach as dark clouds loom thunderously in the distance combine to evoke as few other films have done some real sense of the elegance and savagery that was the hallmark of feudal Japan.
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),
This movie is based on three people 1. Takeda Shingen (Born 1521 - Died 1573),2.Oda Nobunaga (Born 1531 - Died 1582),and 3.Tokugawa Ieyasu (Born 1542 - Died 1616). The movie is set in 16th century Japan (Sengoku Era),Oda Nobunaga rules 'Kyoto' (Yamashiro Province) the throne of Japan,'Kyoto' orders Takeda Shingen to march to Kyoto to liberate the throne from the tyrant Oda Nobunaga. Oda Nobunaga who with 3,000 men defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto's 40,000 men in the battle of Okehazama in 1560 is seen as invincible and ronin warriors start to flock to his banner. In 1573,Oda Nobunaga's army grows from 3,000 to 50,000 men with Takeda Shingen's army at 30,000 men,Takeda Shingen's army beats off Oda Nobunaga's army effortlessly with ease on the road to Kyoto.Oda Nobunaga becomes panick stricken and tries to call a peace with the throne in Kyoto,while Oda Nobunaga helplessly watches his armies destroyed one after another. Tokugawa Ieyasu (an allie of Oda Nobunaga) entrenches himself at Hamamatsu Castle,and launches a calvery of 12,000 against Takeda Shingen's 30,000 men at 'Mikatagahara'(December 22,1573). Tokugawa Ieyasu loses 3,000 men,Takeda Shingen loses 300 men that day. Tokugawa Ieyasu's army runs back like whipped dogs back to the safety of Hamamatsu,watching helplessly as Takeda Shingen's army passes on by to the road to Kyoto. By a quirk of fate Takeda Shingen is shot by a sniper and dies later of lead poison,the Takeda clan keeps his death a secret for three years,meanwhile,Oda Nobunaga wonders why Takeda Shingen has laggard his attack not knowing Takeda Shingen died three years ago.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had waited....,
for the DVD. Great movie but poor VHS quality. Very grainy. Hope the DVD cleans it up.
5.0 out of 5 stars A supreme tale of the warrior mentality,
When Kurosawa made this film he was 70 years old and it stands without question as one of his best films. What makes it so powerful is the portrayal of the perfect fusion of the warrior's emotional intensity with intellectual acuity. Both emotion and intellect are focused solely, in this film, on enemy warlords outwitting each other and that focus is so strong that it more than carries the film through its 2 1/2 hour length.
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,
Kurosawa's best, shame about the vid quality/length. check out Ran and Throne of Blood, also pretty good. if you like japan in the middle ages - harder to find but just as good, kanet Shindo's 'Onibaba'.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and impressive, like a Mountain, but still moving,
Kurosawa at his best. When i stumbled over this movie, many years ago, I wasn't aware, that Kurosawa was so deep and important. I loved "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo" and expected "Kagemusha" to be another cool Samurai flick with action and subtle humor. But this Masterpiece made me have a closer look upon Akira Kurosawa, and I found a whole line of exceptional Films. After experiencing Kagemusha, I wanted to see all the other great films made by Kurosawa, one of the best movie makers ever. Today, I watch the movie once a year and still find things i haven't noticed before, things that only a genius like Kurosawa could have placed into a movie.
The Titel "Kagemusha" means Shadow of the Warrior.
The story takes place in the later 16th century. The Clan Daymios are fighting each other to gain control over the Country. Among them, the legendary Takeda Shingen. One day, he is shot by an enemy sniper and about to die. To prevent the fall of his house, he commands his most loyal man to keep his dead a secret for three years. To make the plan work, a perfect looking Double, a commoner, a thief, is taking over the representative role in public.
From this day on, the thief lives as a shadow, a shadow without a body to follow. More and more, he learn about loyality and respect. He finds joy again in existence and becomes more and more the body, he should be the shadow of. But a shadow is nothing without a body...
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.
If you can stand three hours of good movie, this one is for you. I only wish it would be available on DVD...
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?,
If Akira Kurosawa had not made Ran, Kagemusha would probably have been considered his last great film. However, not only is Ran so incredibly good - one of Kurosawa's best, if not one of the best films of all time - it also deals with the same time period and uses some of the same techniques and actors as Kagemusha, but all in a better and more sophisticated way.
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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