Sanjuro 1962

director: Akira Kurosawa  






"Crackingly entertaining.
Artfully funny"
Sunday Telegraph

"Exceptionally easy, attractive and totally enjoyable Alexander Walker, Evening Standard
"Dazzling swordfights" The Times

Japan in the Edo Period. A chamberlain has been kidnapped by a corrupt and unscrupulous superintendent, and now his wife and daughter are at risk too. The chamberlain's nephew enlists the help of a group of his young samurai friends, but all of them are too naive and inexperienced to do anything useful. In fact, the first thing they do is blunder into an ambush set by the superintendent. Fortunately, they're saved by a wandering ronin who calls himself Sanjuro (the same dishevelled, masterless samurai who appeared in Yojimbo) and he lazily begins teaching them some of the harsher facts of life. The story moves to a heart-stopping climax with a duel between Sanjuro and the villainous superintendent.
But Sanjuro (Tsubaki Sanjuro) is not simply Yojimbo II. Kurosawa has never been a director to repeat himself, and he made Sanjuro his most devastating parody of conventional samurai movies. The result is a wonderful action comedy. The mainspring of the humour is Toshiro Mifune's masterly performance as Sanjuro: unshaven, indolent living entirely on his wits. The group of young samurai have [sic] the code of bushi-do coming out of their ears, but haven't yet learned the most basic lessons about human nature, duplicity and greed. Sanjuro teaches them, and the 'education' process is one of the most entertaining lessons in nuts-and-bolts pragmatism ever put on screen.
This is Kurosawa s most relaxed and purely enjoyable film. He undoubtedly had a serious, underlying purpose in attacking Japan's sentimental attachment to old feudal ideas about honour and valour. But the tone, the pace and the performances make the film out of the realm of social comment and into a world where actions - and images - speak louder than words. Tony Rayns


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Distributor Palace
Catalogue Number PVC2040A
Release Series Japanese Classics
Release Date October 1983
Printed Classification
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