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Sanjuro (Widescreen) (The Criterion Collection)
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Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Kurosawa's tightly paced, beautifully composed Sanjuro. In this companion piece to Yojimbo, jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan's evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a "proper" samurai on its ear. Criterion is proud to present Sanjuro in a gorgeous Tohoscope transfer.
Akira Kurosawa's sequel to Yojimbo is more lighthearted and less cynical, a rousing adventure with Toshirô Mifune reprising his role as the scruffy mercenary who becomes an unlikely big brother to a troupe of nine naive samurai. Shuffling into a secret meeting where the proud young men discuss the graft choking their clan, Mifune's Sanjuro scratches his scraggly beard and distractedly rubs his neck like some common peasant while giving them advice on appearances and truths: "People aren't what they seem," he warns the dubious lads. "Be careful." Naturally they aren't, and Sanjuro grudgingly adopts the well-meaning but hopelessly ill-equipped heroes, giving the starry-eyed youths a series of lessons in real-world honor and respect while saving their skins from reckless attacks and impulsive plans. It isn't the subtlest of Kurosawa's films--the repetitious lessons and speeches delivered to the thickheaded samurai are rather obvious--but it's one of his most entertaining. Mifune, gruffly at ease with the boys, is hilariously discomforted in the presence of a cultured lady, who sees through his shaggy exterior and imparts a little wisdom of her own. Mifune bounds into action in a number of impressive sword fights--wonderfully choreographed lightning-quick battles in which Mifune leaps all over the widescreen image--but an increasing sense of waste, of futility, hangs over the action scenes, culminating in a tense but meaningless duel of honor. The accompanying trailer on the DVD features brief behind-the-scenes glimpses of Kurosawa directing Mifune through an action sequence. --Sean Axmaker
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
In my own opinion, I find Sanjuro to be one of my favorite films by the Kurosawa. Unlike Yojimbo, which mainly showed the violent side of humans, Sanjuro shows a much deeper... Read morePublished on May 21 2004 by Tom Tsukuhara
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film released shortly after the release of Yojimbo, has the same main character. Read more
Before seeing a Toshiro Mifune film I wasn't into Samurai movies....now I'm hooked. Sanjuro tells the story of a masterless Samurai who tries to help some naive and bumbling... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2004
Kurosawa and Mifume make a memorable film on what could have been just standard material. Mifume is the samurai in the middle of a political struggle who uses his cunning and... Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2003
Yet another fine example of how films should be done, Sanjuro is a continuation of Yojimbo; I hesitate to call it a sequel due to the common belief that sequels are always inferior... Read morePublished on July 29 2003
Who would have thunk you could have a funny samurai movie? I guess you can have comedic westerns, so why no a humorous samurai? Read morePublished on July 23 2003 by Craig Matteson
Sure it isn't as good as Yojimbo, but that doesn't detract from it in the least. Mifune swaggers with the best of them, and watching him trying to keep his over-eager swordsmen in... Read morePublished on May 4 2003 by TH
Kurosawa only made two sequels in his lifetime, "Sanshiro Sugata II," and "Sanjuro." "Sanshiro Sugata II" was a government-suggested sequel and basically a war-time propaganda... Read morePublished on March 26 2003 by Zack Davisson
Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro, while surely the lesser film, is no less enjoyable. Originally a different story that was later rewritten for Mifune's samurai character, this time... Read morePublished on March 3 2003 by Craig Clarke
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