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Criterion Collection: Samurai Trilogy [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Toshiro Mifune , Hiroshi Inagaki    DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £27.72
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Frequently Bought Together

Criterion Collection: Samurai Trilogy [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + 47 Ronin [DVD] + When The Last Sword Is Drawn (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Price For All Three: £40.42

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Product details

  • Actors: Toshiro Mifune
  • Directors: Hiroshi Inagaki
  • Format: Box set, Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Jun 2012
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007N5YK10
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,938 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film adaptation of a great novel 27 Oct 2009
By Mike L
Here are all three films in director Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai trilogy, an adaptation of Eiji Yoshikawa magnificent 1000 page novel Musashi which sold over 120 million copies in Japan. It won the academy award for best foreign movie in 1954. It's filmed in glorious Eastmancolor and shot, for the most part in the japanese landscape. Since the three films cover one story, buying a boxed set like this is definitely the way to get them.

Miyamoto Musashi is a historical figure, Japan's most famous swordsman who was never defeated in combat. He defeated every swordsman who faced him, and was only once held to a draw by a staff expert, to whom he simply couldn't get close enough.

The title character is played by Toshirô Mifune in the role that brought him to international attention.

The first film, Musashi is set in 1600 A.D., in a civil war period. Musashi relates the first years of samurai apprenticeship of Takezo who, with his friend, Matahachi, decides to go to war in order to obtain fame. The second film, Duel at Ichijoji temple, is the most violent, with a climactic fight scene in which Musashi defeats 80 attackers. In the final volume, Duel at Ganryu Island, Musashi defeats his bitter rival in an unforgettable dual, pictured on the cover.

The only weakness is these films are the women in Musashi's life, who seem to us today over-feminine and weak. Whilst this is true to the novel, and arguably expressive of a culture in which masculine and feminine were sharply separated in mand and woman, it's irritating and for this the films (especially the third) lose half a star. This aside, these are great films that deserve to be much better known.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why so hidden? 25 Jan 2008
I thought that I had seen most good movies in this genre, then I came upon this. It really is fantastic to find such well made films as these. The fights are realistic to a scary level, the characters are lively but flawed, the plot is simple yet interesting. To describe it as Japans gone with the wind is not so far fetched. In short if you love Kurosawa`s work you will adore this trilogy.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You gotta love those Samurai!!! 23 May 2004
Hiroshi Inagaki’s acclaimed Samurai Trilogy is based on the novel that has been called Japan’s Gone with the Wind. This sweeping saga of the legendary seventeenth-century samurai Musashi Miyamoto (powerfully portrayed by Toshiro Mifune) plays out against the turmoil of a devastating civil war. The Trilogy follows Musashi’s odyssey from unruly youth to enlightened warrior. In the first part, Musashi Miyamoto, the hero’s dreams of military glory end in betrayal, defeat, and a fugitive lifestyle. But he is saved by a woman who loves him and a cunning priest who guides him to the samurai path. This installment won the 1955 Academy Awardfor Best Foreign Film. In the second and most violent installment, Duel at Ichijoji Temple, Musashi beats a samurai armed with a chain-and-sickle and is later set upon by eighty samurai disciples—orchestrated by the sinister Kojiro—while the two women who love him watch helplessly. In the third installment, Duel at Ganryu Island, Musashi reunites tragically with the women who love him, and battles for samurai supremacy in a climactic confrontation with his lifelong nemesis.
If you have been profoundly affected by the recent surge of Samurai-based movies, then this is a must-have for your collection!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and Gripping Samurai Saga 3 Sep 2012
By Joseph
The Samurai Trilogy is without doubt Hiroshi Inagaki's "Magnum opus" it is epic, sprawling yet always remains gripping and riveting. These Three parts follow famous Japanese swordsman Musashi Miyamoto from wild young man to master swordsman and his various adventures and duels. The first part: Musashi Miyamoto follows him from his transformation from young wild man to refined master swordsman. The first film is the most gripping and brilliant starting with battle as Musashi finds himself on the losing side and attempts to travel back home with is friend encountering different dangers along the way. Part II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple follows his adventures as he gets involved in tournament with a master school and in a brilliant finale takes on lots of samurai. In Part III: Duel at Ganryu Island Musashi must help help a village under attack from bandits in a plot similar to Seven Samurai and fight in duel with famous swordsman Sasaki Kojirō. The gripping final showdown is a classic old style duel unlike later samurai films where they slash and cut each other their final showdown is a thought out and clever fight where each use the weather and skills to outsmart each other. Toshiro Mifune (alongside Tatsuya Nakadai as one the best actors in Samurai film) is brilliant as the wild ruffian who develops a maturity to wise swordsman and Kaoru Yachigusa as Otsu, the beautiful, patience and long suffering lover of Musashi. This really is a brilliant samurai series beautifully directed by Inagki boasting action and drama and deserves to be in any Japanese fan's collection. Criterion's new 2012 DVD release (pictured) is a massive improvement on their previous 2005 release (which was terrible VHS quality), the image quality here is vastly superior and brilliantly remastered boasting crystal clear imagery doing the film the justice it deserves.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  117 reviews
64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic film for admirers of Japanese culture, history and martial arts 28 April 2006
By Henry D. Friedman - Published on
The content has been summarized by others. For the person who has not seen these films, the summary cannot convey the content of these 3 films.

In short, the story of perhaps the greatest master of Japanese sword skill ever, a historical/almost mythical figure from 1600 feudal Japan.

The 3 movies tell of his evolution from a young hot head with exceptional ability, to a master of both his martial art and of life from a Japanese Shinto perspective.

These films are full of Japanese culture and mentality.

The actors are spell binding.

The fight sceens are believable and of the highest standard. (No, the actors cannot walk up walls!!! and fly through the air!!!).

The story for me, was and is deeply moving.

Do not misunderstand, my insight and identification does not parallel that of the main character, but it is a story which has become part of me.

I do not know if this will appeal to every one.

It is in Japanese with subtitles.

Some parts of the film become slow.

Nonetheless, for me, this is a masterpiece and one of my all time favorites.

It is timeless.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: AMAZING transfer and picture 24 Jun 2012
By Rider - Published on
Blu-ray picture is simply amazing, especially considering this film is almost 60 yrs old. Many scenes are so crystal-clear and detailed you truly feel like you're actually there as an observer instead of watching a film. Detail is razor-sharp; you can see intricate fabric textures and very fine face details in closeup shots. In carefully-lit interior scenes, color is rich but not over-saturated; outdoor scenes are good but not quite as vibrant. Insert says "These new high-definition digital transfers were created on a Spirit Datacine from 35mm low-contrast prints struck from the original camera negatives." Also color fluctuations, scratches, splices, jitter, flicker, etc. were corrected.

Highly recommended - definitely a big step up from the DVD version.
98 of 110 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Regarding the films and the DVD transfer 14 Nov 2004
By ixta_coyotl - Published on
While I don't think these films are quite up to the level of the other great Japanese samurai films of the 1950s (such as Sansho the Bailiff & Seven Samurai), the really great things about the Samurai Trilogy for me were in the marvelous use of natural surroundings, the attractive Japanese leading ladies, and above all being able to see Toshiro Mifune starring in color.

Regarding the DVD transfer, let me first say that I am a frugal guy who does not think that any DVD, however good the transfer, is ever worth 30 bucks. That said, I don't know what all the fuss is about over the image quality on these disks. The film was not released in widescreen so the full-screen image is correct. The only scenes which are perhaps too dark are in the end of the second film, because it was filmed that way originally! The VHS is even darker as far as I could tell. I have 20/40 vision, yet I had absolutely no problem reading the subtitles ever in any of the three films. The image quality in general is not Jeanne d'Arc but it certainly never came close to impairing my ability to enjoy the films. Finally, there are no special features beyond theatrical trailers on any of the DVDs, but the three-pack is also priced cheaper than any other Criterion issues (less than $20/disc) so why complain!
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the great Toshiro Mifune 4 Jun 2005
By Stalwart Kreinblaster - Published on
I do not wish to compare these films to the works of Kurosawa as others have done (of course they aren't as modern or innovative) but to assess their impact as a trilogy and as a great realized vision of a historical figures' spiritual development. Their are not too many trilogies that hold together this well - maybe 'Star Wars' gives us this sort of vision as well. Toshiro Mifune, of course steals the show, and is very convincing in this kind of role. The cinematography is quite nice (especially in the first and last film) and we get to see a lot of beautiful natural images throughout the film - I am reminded of the Japanese love for nature that has been written so much about (read D.T. Suzuki's 'Zen and Japanese Culture' as another fine example). Overall, I am satisfied with this purchase. I think it has the power to inspire.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Improved over previous iterations 26 Jun 2012
By zeb - Published on
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The main thing missing is the much anticipated commentary track. I got so used to Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and others that I got spoiled with. I know this is not a Kurosawa masterpiece but it's still a masterpiece on its own. Wish they had a commentary track with Stephen Prince. Anyways...for each of the 3 films, William Wilson, gives the historical info on the real Musashi Miyamoto and how it relates to the film where many parts are fictitious for entertainment purposes and you'll find them in the "supplements" section.

They put the 2 bluray discs on one spindle which is divided top and bottom and the booklet on the left side on a single bluray case. I have a slight gripe about this set up. First, the films can't be sold separately because 2 movies are on 1 50gb bluray dual layer and the 3rd movie is on the 2nd bluray 25gb single layer. So, wanting a collector's item goes right out the door due to not having individualized packaging just like Yojimbo and Sanjuro.

The films are in it's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio at 1080p HD and amazon's listing at 1.77:1 is incorrect. When viewing on your widescreen TV, you'll see 2 black bars to the sides just like Seven Samurai. The picture quality is definitely leaps and bounds superior to that of the 2004 criterion DVD release. The colors are vibrant and the contrast is maxed out. Almost feels like I'm watching something new entirely. Some might be turned off by the heavy grain quality but keep in mind this film is old. In todays standards with recent films, the grainy quality would be unacceptable. Audio has been improved as well with a noticeable higher Mhz monaural. If you're watching on a 120Hz or 240Hz refresh rate TV, go ahead and turn them off, it gets distracting with the blurriness of movements.

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