As owner of both the BFI 'Samurai' and 'Crime' Kurosawa collections, this was the next logical purchase, for me. I've resisted, so far, their 'Early' Kurosawa collection. I've bought these as wonderful collector's items, to enjoy the films, appreciate the diversity of the director and relish the lovely presentation and authorative booklet. And, to support the BFI, who do a splendid job, bringing often unseen and unknown films to film-lovers such as you and me.
Akira Kurosawa will forever be synonymous with his world-dominating, ground-breaking take on the samurai and one that he'll be remembered for, above all else. However, he was far from being a one-genre director and in many ways, classics such as Ikiru (included here) are their equal.
Many in the 'Crime Collection' set (which I've also reviewed) - Drunken Angel, Stray Dog and High & Low, 3 in particular, which all show this master director turning to contemporary issues, of a hugely changing Japan. Even if you don't consider them classics, they're as good as anything Hollywood did - OK, minus 'our' iconic screen idols, look at them as very good dramas dealing with big issues of the time; usually in a thoroughly entertaining and accomplished way.
I have digressed, my point having been to show that alternative Kurosawa's are often the equal to his famous films and thus worthy of our attention; so now to this set.
As other reviewers have said, you get two extra films never released on DVD before - Lower Depths and Dodes'Ka-Den and so avid Kurosawa fans and completists will get something extra. For me, it's Red Beard that I most wanted to see, whilst I Live in Fear touches on Ozu territory, in its poignant and respectful look at cold-war paranoia that the whole of the developed world suffered.
I've purposefully gone down the route of the keen movie watcher/collector than film reviewer as I feel, like I did, that much indecision arises as to whether one should buy, this or that, or none at all. I won't try to sway you - I'm not the one who is selling the product!
I will say, though, that these BFI sets aren't cheap and their limited market means little discounting but when compared to individual DVDs, they work out better, if you can can get them, of course. On the plus side, whilst seeming to be un-restored, BFI's exacting standards mean they are the best transfers that you're likely to get. Their price, packaging and presentation also make perfect gifts for the rather special film-lover in your life - such as yourself....