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Kagemusha [VHS]

51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara, Jinpachi Nezu, Hideji Ôtaki
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Audie Bock, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: VHS
  • Language: Japanese
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Fox
  • VHS Release Date: 11 Jan. 1990
  • Run Time: 153 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000057WZM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,014 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

When a warlord, who makes use of lookalikes of himself in battle, is killed, one of these doubles takes over his role. He is coached by underlings to perform properly but eventually he is exposed by a concubine. Unable to relinquish his role completely, the lookalike goes into battle one last time... Akira Kurosawa directs.

From Amazon.co.uk

The 1970s were difficult years for the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Having been unable to secure full Japanese backing for his epic project Kagemusha, the 70-year-old master found American support from George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, who served as co-executive producers (through 20th Century Fox) for this magnificent 1980 production--to that date the most expensive film in Japanese history. Set in the late-16th century, Kagemusha centres on the Takeda clan, one of three warlord clans battling for control of Japan at the end of the feudal period. When their leader Lord Shingen (Tatsuya Nakadai) is mortally wounded in battle, he orders that his death be kept secret and that his "kagemusha"--or "shadow warrior"--take his place for a period of three years to prevent clan disruption and enemy takeover. The identical double is a petty thief (also played by Nakadai) spared from execution due to his uncanny resemblance to Lord Shingen--but his true identity cannot prevent the tides of fate from rising over the Takeda clan in a climactic scene of battlefield devastation. Through stunning visuals and meticulous attention to every physical and stylistic detail, Kurosawa made a film that restored his status as Japan's greatest filmmaker, and the success of Kagemusha enabled the director to make his 1985 masterpiece, Ran. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Oct. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary film combining great scenario and incredible visual effects, made by THE great master of Japanese cinema Akira Kurosawa. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

"Kagemusha" is the story of just three years of the incredible but true and short but extremely intense saga of Takeda clan. The period of great importance of Takeda was in years 1536-1582, but this film tells just the story of the dramatic years 1573 to 1575, from the siege of Noda castle to battle of Nagashino. In order to better understand the events described in "Kagemusha" it is helpful to know the main events of the history of the Takeda clan in the previous years, as they are ocassionally referred to, but not fully explained.
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In 1536 Takeda Nobutora, the head of Takeda clan, was the daimyo of impoverished mountainous province of Kai. But not only was this province a dirt poor backwater, but the Takeda didn't even really control all of it, as some of their nominal retainers, like the Hirada family, were in fact completely independent. Therefore the Takeda were really just a little, not very wealthy provincial samurai clan, without much importance. In 1536 Takeda Nobutora lost an important battle against the Hirada family, but soon after Takeda Harunobu, his then barely 15-years old son, avenged the defeat and destroyed completely the Hirada, greatly stregthening the position of his clan.

That great achievement notwithstanding, there was not much love between father and son and Harunobu, although being the oldest son, was not designed as heir - that position went to his younger brother Nobushige instead. Refusing this, Takeda Harunobu in 1541 seized the power and banished his father.
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112 of 119 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Nov. 2002
Format: DVD
Kurosawa’s 1980 samurai epic is much more than a dry run for his Shakespearean epic “Ran”. In its own right it is filmmaking on a vast canvas, documenting the downfall of the Takeda clan in 16th century Japan. The title refers to the double who takes the place of the warlord Takeda Shingen when the latter dies. The film then becomes concerned with the nature of identity, as the double learns to adapt to the role of the warlord, and reality and illusion merge.
Fans of the kinetic energy of Kurosawa’s classic black-and-white pictures must have been surprised by the opening shot – the camera doesn’t move once for the whole six-minute scene. In fact, the mostly static camera is a feature of Kurosawa’s mature style: detached, fatalistic, his characters now trapped by destiny and unable to change its course. “Kagemusha” is a pessimistic work, one which offers no hope of action. Kurosawa had begun to delineate the way things fall apart, and the atmosphere is one of melancholy and, ultimately, despair.
I have heard it remarked that this film (and “Ran”) suffers from the absence of Toshiro Mifune. While I agree that the break-up of Kurosawa and Mifune made cinema a poorer place, it must be said that Tatsuya Nakadai (a stage actor who had previously played villains in “Yojimbo” and “Sanjuro”) does an excellent job in a role originally intended for the comic actor Shinaro Katsu. However, the true greatness lies, as always, in Kurosawa’s direction. Like “Ran,” “Kagemusha” was meticulously planned, mapped out first in the form of drawings and diagrams, a result of Kurosawa’s inability to secure financial backing for the film for several years.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 5 Jan. 2004
Format: DVD
As another reviewer has already observed, surely this masterpiece deserves the best possible remastering for DVD? Apart from the awful editing and cutting, the picture quality is very poor and the sound is a disgrace. Kurosawa San and Kagemusha should be afforded the proper respect and until that happens I strongly advise would be viewers to see this magnificent film in all its' glory on the big screen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 9 Dec. 2012
Format: DVD
After years in the wilderness ended only when Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas persuaded 20th Century Fox to invest some of the money they'd made from Star Wars in his financially stalled epic, Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha was one of those real life fairy tales that you feel bad for not liking more. It's a film with good things in it and the odd great moment, but despite having a good story to tell and the budget to do it justice it never really comes to life. The tale of a thief whose uncanny resemblance to a warlord leads to him assuming his role after his death to prevent his kingdom falling apart and slowly gaining both the admiration and unease of those who use him over his alternately inspired or disastrous improvisation in the role itself tends to feel like a convincing imitation rather than the genuine article. A big part of the reason is that the characters never come to life thanks to a script that's thin on character and a performance by Tatsuya Nakadai that's more than competent but feels like it's had the life directed out of it. Kurosawa originally cast Shintaro Katsu, the larger than life star of the Lone Wolf and Cub and Hanzo the Razor films, only to fire him in rehearsals over what he saw as a lack of respect and, as Coppola suggests on one of the interviews on Criterion's DVD and Blu-ray, that was probably what the part needed instead of Nakadai's quieter, more contained but all too often near-anonymous performance. Throughout he seems kept at arm's length, observing events but never allowed to take centre stage until near the end of the film.

The film's other big problem is it's pacing.
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