February 17 to March 3, 1860, inside Edo castle. A group of assassins wait by Sakurada Gate to kill the lord of the House of Ii, a powerful man in the Tokugawa government, which has ruled ... See full summary »
In the Edo period, a nameless ronin accepts an assignment to go to a mountain pass and wait. Near the pass he stops at an inn where a collection of characters gather, including a gang set ... See full summary »
The mother of a feudal lord's only heir is kidnapped away from her husband by the lord. The husband and his samurai father must decide whether to accept the unjust decision, or risk death to get her back.
Edmund Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac, transplanted to Japan. A poet-warrior with an oversized nose (matched only by his great heart) loves a lady. But she sees him only as a friend, so ... See full summary »
Feudal Japan, 1543 to 1562. Kansuke Yamamoto is a samurai who dreams of a country united, peaceful from sea to sea. He enters the service of Takeda, the lord of Kai domain. He convinces ... See full summary »
This title is really only the first part of a three-part story of the early life of Musashi, the legendary Samurai. The three parts were released separately and Criterion DVD has released them on three separate discs, each disc about an hour and a half to two hours long. You can try to watch the first disc alone, it stand by itself, but it ends just as Mushashi starts out on his quest, and you'll miss Koji Tsuruta's serene and slightly creepy role as Kojiru, Musashi's arch-enemy, which for me was the best part of parts 2 and 3.
The DVDs feature not very well restored prints, maybe it was the best they could do, and there is no supplemental material.
The movie itself is a fun and lively retelling of the legend. Mifune is more wooden than usual, but this is a time when Japanese action films were taking their cues from westerns, and his Musashi grows from a wild spirit to the requisite strong, silent type. For a modern, charismatic, manga-style Musashi, try to get your hands on 2003's "Musashi" NHK miniseries.
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