Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
A wandering samurai, Sanjuro, is drawn into local politics. The Superintendent of a clan is plotting to take over the clan by implicating the Chamberlain in corrupt activities (activities the Superintendent is actually responsible for). Part of the plan involves killing off the Chamberlain's staff and, in protecting them, Sanjuro sides with them. The supporters are massively outnumbered so it will require all of Sanjuro's cunning and swordcraft to ensure the Superintendent does not succeed in his evil plan.
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August 09, 2018 at 10:21 AM
One of Kurosawa's most polished movies
Tsubaki Sanjuro is, unfortunately, not so widely seen abroad (= outside Japan) as Yojinbo, probably because it was not copied as a western. In Japan, however, Tsubaki Sanjuro is not less popular than Yojinbo. Not a few Japanese actually prefer the former to the latter, and it's easy to see why: It is stylistically more polished and smarter than Yojimbo and Mifune is 'cooler' as well - he shows a brilliant leadership and every Mifune fan would be really delighted to see how his young, naive disciples run after him like chicks following the mother duck.
And while Yojinbo's female main character, Orin, is an evil and crafty woman, Lady Mutsuta in Tsubaki Sanjuro is 'irritatingly light-hearted'. But she has a deep insight into Sanjuro's personality and understands him far better than his male disciples. An excellent character, and, in fact, she is the only person in Tsubaki Sanjuro AND Yojinbo to whom Sanjuro/Mifune speaks in a polite form (in Japanese).
Tsubaki Sanjuro is, so to speak, a 'concentrate' of Kurosawa's cinematography and one sees in it every aspect of his greatness in a very compact form. Therefore no one could remake this movie.
Kurosawa Plays Himself.
With a near clean lineup of masterpieces under his belt, nobody could fault Kurosawa for wanting to make a simple piece of entertainment. This simple aspiration did not stop him from making another hugely influential success.
Sanjuro is a loose sequel to the classic Yojimbo. The character is back, as is, confusingly, Tatsuya Nakadai as a completely different character. The landscape and tone are entirely new, lighter, jollier. It is almost a spoof of its predecessor,as Mifune's nonchalant and perpetually unwashed antihero helps a group of goody- two-shoes samurai save their framed master. This is also the first on-screen collaboration between Toshiro Mifune and the young Yuzo Kayama, before they costared to such memorable effect on Redbeard.
Nobody spoofs Kurosawa better than the man himself: this is without a doubt his funniest film, yet he never treats it as a second-class product. No slouch, the director peppers this light romp with unforgettable visual flourishes, enraptured homages to the American Westerns that so inspired him, and an end-note of surprising violence, the likes of which Tarantino could only dream of.
At a fast-paced 96 minutes, this is probably a great entry point into the cinema of Akira Kurosawa, and a film that would be much more highly regarded had it not come from such an established filmmaker.
Read more IMDb reviews
Excellent - Superb - A Masterpiece
Akira Kurosawa is probably the best Director in the entire History of film-making. He has not been that prolific given the amount of time he has spent making films, but many of these have subsequently been remade - Seven Samurai became the magnificent seven. Yoijimbo (the prequel to this one) became A fistful of dollars - and more recently last man standing. The hidden Fortress became Star Wars. Sanjuro marked the return of Toshiro Mifune as the Sardonic Ronin from Yoijimbo. Yet again, the photography is excellent - the period costumes and buildings beautiful to look at even in black and white. From one of the first scenes, in the grounds outside the Shrine, Mifune shows a 500% improvement in the art of Kenjutso - he must have been practicing night and day! But it is the character of Sanjuro itself that makes the film so absorbing. He is on the surface, a dirty, disrespectful abrasive man - but his deeds portray him as a hero - someone who once was a shining example of a Samurai and despite being put through the ringer still holds to a deeply rooted code of honor. When this shows however, he is most anxious to cover it up again..... The film involves a power struggle within a small city in Japan between the old faction and the new power-hungry one. It deals with false perceptions and truth. Two of the tenets that are at the heart of Kurosawa's films. This is a Gem - rent it - if you can, Buy it!