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9 of 9 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 (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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. Unfortunately, there is no Region 2 DVD release. UK viewers will have to make do with this US version, or try the Region 0 Chinese release.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why so hidden?, 25 Jan 2008
By 
M. Davidson (Southampton) - See all my reviews
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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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You gotta love those Samurai!!!, 23 May 2004
By 
Mr. D. P. Goodfellow "Funkydan" (South east UK) - See all my reviews
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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
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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Criterion Collection: Samurai Trilogy [Blu-ray] [1956] [US Import]
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