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Bodycount - 27, with one hell of a finale.
Genre: Samurai Period Action Drama (Japan)
Overview: Once again we follow the adventures of Sanjuro. This time he leads a band of nine young samurai to defeat the corrupt superintendent and rescue the chamberlain and his family.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by now to see the same actors over and over again in Kurosawa's films, but Sanjuro takes the cake for confusing sequels - actor wise. When you have a supporting character so prominent as Unosuke the gunfighter in Yojimbo, to see the exact same actor in The Emperor's next film, a sequel of his last production, where we follow in the continuing saga of our lone poor ronin, to see the same actor portray a different antagonist... well it's a little strange. Kurosawa was the kind of guy who kept his skilled crew close, be it actor, composer or technician.
A healthy attitude towards action
As complaints go, that's the only bad thing I have to say about this film, so we're off to a good start. This is Kurosawa's second and last sequel (the first was Judo Saga II, a film producers pressured him into making). At least both were sequels to films he himself directed. As for Sanjuro, that was a script he was already working on, and producers merely asked him to change the main character to Yojimbo's protagonist. The point I'm getting at is this: don't treat it like 'merely a sequel'. This tale is rich, funny and ironic by its own right, and full of lovely little tidbits of wisdom.
We begin with a group of green samurai, banded together against corruption. They have brought their complains to those they thought they could trust, and are preparing to meet with them. Once everything is explained, a tired unkempt samurai in the next room appears, yawning and stretching, mentioning that he overheard their ridiculous plan and will aid them because the way they're going at it, they're bound to all be slaughtered. After getting them though that first little bind, Sanjuro decides that he can't part ways with this neonate band of inexperienced men until the job is done.
What sets this film apart is Sanjuro himself. He's a character most unlike the prim, proper, disciplined and organized men of his kind, and because of this, strife and distrust is sown among the ranks he is helping, adding a nice theme of irony.
An uncouth man surrounded by lovely couths
Performance: 9 Cinematography: 8 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 8
Overall Rating: 82% (The Jury's Out)
Visually dynamic, full of quick-thinking wit, starring Toshirô Mifune, set in the Edo period with samurai swordfighting, espionage and double agentry. Look, if this ain't your thing, why are you reading?! If you like Samurai Action that's not too political, this is your bag. You'll like it.