5 October 2016

THE CRITERION COLLECTION PRESENTS: THE SAMURAI TRILOGY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE SAMURAI TRILOGY. (1954/1955/1956) DIRECTED BY HIROSHI INAGAKI. BASED ON EIJI YOSHIKAWA'S NOVEL 'MUSASHI.' DISTRIBUTED BY TOHO STUDIOS.
STARRING TOSHIRO MIFUNE, KOJI TSURUTA, KAORA YACHIGUSA AND MARIKO OKADA.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is probably the best movie trilogy since Peter Jackson's THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies. Well, strictly speaking, since THE SAMURAI TRILOGY pre-dates TLOTR by nearly a half a decade, then it'd have to be the best trilogy since before TLOTR ... Well, you guys know what I mean. Don't you...? Anyway, I'm dying to tell you all about these three fantastic old Japanese movies so let's all put our little reviewers' hats on and get in the zone. The movie zone...! Groan.

The three full-colour films are: MUSASHI MIYAMOTO (1954); DUEL AT ICHIJOJI TEMPLE (1955); and DUEL AT GANRYU ISLAND (1956). They tell the story of one man and his travels, his loves, his enemies, his goals and his achievements. He's the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto or Takezo, as he's otherwise known, and he lives in Japan in the early 1600s.

He's a Samurai, a warrior whose journey from being an undisciplined hotheaded youth to finding himself the most celebrated swordsman in all of Japan we are privileged to witness. He's one of those strong silent broody types who doesn't say too much, but he's always on the side of justice and he always supports the little guy or the underdog.

This is probably just one of the reasons why women are attracted to him in their droves. That and his dark good looks, trusty sword and jaunty little Samurai topknot...! Also, he has great sturdy pins in a pair of work shorts. Just saying.

Takezo has two women who are madly in love with him. The devoted Otsu waits around literally for years for Takezo to go and 'find himself' as a Samurai. No matter where he goes or for how long he's absent, poor Otsu waits patiently for him. She's probably the epitome of Japanese womanhood in the 1600s. She's quiet, hardworking, submissive, faithful and loyal. The perfect girlfriend, in other words.

Takezo just can't seem to commit to her or to any woman because he's chosen 'the way of the sword' rather than 'the way of love.' We get the distinct impression, however, that he does really love Otsu and it's only the whole Samurai thing that's stopping him from settling down with her. After all her loyalty and fidelity, she bloody well deserves it, haha. Put a ring on it, mister...

Akemi is the other woman in love with the taciturn Takezo. She's livelier and feistier than Otsu, who after all the years of waiting around for Takezo to get his act together has become worn out and beaten down. Akemi's life hasn't been too easy either. Her dad's dead, her mother's a scheming trollop and she tends to get used and abused by men, even to the point of having to resort to prostitution to earn a living.

She's as cute as a button in her pretty pink kimono with the little bell attached, but Takezo still rejects her advances the way he's already rejected Akemi's own mother's advances, believe it or not. Everybody wants to get with Takezo. Obviously it's because he's such a legendary swordsman, haha.

The love scenes and the love stories in general are my favourite parts of the three films, but the fight scenes are spectacular. The duel on the beach at sunrise at the end of the third film is so stunningly done that it was apparently the inspiration for some of the fighting in KILL BILL.

In this magnificent and awe-inspiring duel which will give you shivers up and down your spine, Takezo battles the handsome and supremely confident Kojiro Sasaki, who despite having his flaws is still a strangely likeable (and fanciable!) character. He should definitely hook up with whichever woman Takezo ends up not choosing. Two men, two women. They should be able to do the math...!

I love that Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo) is based on a real-life person who lived from 1584-1645 and was famous for his fighting technique and artistic ability. Takezo in the films is such a sympathetic character that it would be nearly impossible not to like him.

Takezo reminds me a lot of Goro, the hero in a series of Yakuza films which came along over a decade later in the late 'Sixties, OUTLAW GANGSTER VIP. Goro was a handsome lone wolf of a Yakuza who travelled around Japan fighting other Yakuzas and helping out the little guy when and
where it was needed, and everywhere he went he had the same beautiful girl (one actress playing different roles) ready and waiting to prostrate herself at his big handsome feet.

And speaking of Goro's feet, his flip-flops never came off no matter how many enemy Yakuzas he kicked in the balls. He had, like, amazing Toe-Power. It was just one of the many loveable features of his character. There are a lot of similarities between Goro and Takezo, both decent guys and pussy magnets (excuse my French) with a terrible fear of dragging innocent women into their dangerous and solitary lives, and the high production values of both these film series are evident to anyone who's watched them.

Anyway, will Takezo get with Otsu or Akemi, or maybe someone else or possibly even no-one at all? Will he kill Kojiro Sasaki, the most formidable foe he'll ever battle, or will he be killed by him? Will his flip-flops stay on throughout the course of these three marvellous films? The only way to find out is to buy and watch the trilogy.

There's no better time to do that than now, this very month, as the three films are currently out on Blu-Ray courtesy of THE CRITERION COLLECTION. The colour is crystal-clear and wonderfully vivid, the scenery is out of this world and, in fact, with the Blu-Ray, the films look much newer than they actually are.

There will be a host of special edition features with your purchase, including some stuff that even I, the reviewer, don't get my grubby mitts on. Go forth, therefore, and buy the trilogy and practise your sword-fighting in the hope that you too may inspire beautiful women to give up their lives to wait patiently for you to finish arse-ing about playing at being in STAR WARS. That's for the guys. What do the women get out of it? Well, we've got Takezo, we don't need anything else...

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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