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Kurosawa: The Samurai Collection [4 Blu-ray Disc Set] [1954]

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji Miyaguchi, Minoru Chiaki
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Format: Import, Blu-ray, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Sept. 2014
  • Run Time: 668 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00LA1ZV52
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,904 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

KUROSAWA: THE SAMURAI COLLECTION (4-DISC BLU-RAY BOX SET)

Akira Kurosawa is one of the world's greatest filmmakers. His films have been acclaimed by critics the world over, and his celebrated samurai epics featuring international star Toshirô Mifune have inspired filmmakers as diverse as Steven Spielberg and Sergio Leone, and inspired countless films, including The Magnificent Seven. This indispensable Blu-ray collection contains digitally remastered High Definition presentations of five of Kurosawa's greatest films, are accompanied with extra features including interviews with directors George Lucas and Alex Cox, feature-length audio commentaries and original theatrical trailers.

Contents

  1. SEVEN SAMURAI
    When the residents of a small Japanese village seek protection they hire seven unemployed 'ronin' (masterless samurai). Paid only in handfuls of rice, the samurai remain distant from the villagers, knowing that their assignment may prove fatal. Unanimously hailed as one of cinema's greatest masterpieces, Seven Samurai has inspired countless films, including The Magnificent Seven.
    Japan | 1954 | 207 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
  2. THRONE OF BLOOD
    In this brilliant re-imagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth Toshirô Mifune plays a samurai fated to betray his friend and master in exchange for the prestige of nobility. Kurosawa's bloody tale is a triumph of economic style, and the climactic battle scene is full of remarkable, and brutal, imagery.
    Japan | 1957 | 108 minutes | Japanese language with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
  3. THE HIDDEN FORTRESS
    In this classic collaboration between Kurosawa and star Mifune, a warrior and a princess try against all odds to return to their homeland with their fortune. Acknowledged by George Lucas as the inspiration for Star Wars, The Hidden Fortress combines an epic tale of struggle and honour with modern comic sensibilities to masterful effect
    Japan | 1958 | 144 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 2.35:1
  4. YOJIMBO
    A drifting samurai for hire plays both ends against the middle with two warring factions, surviving on his wits and his ability to outrun his own bad luck. Eventually the samurai seeks to eliminate both sides for his own gain and to define his own sense of honour. Yojimbo provided inspiration for A Fistful of Dollars.
    Japan | 1961 | 110 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect ratio 2.35:1
  5. SANJURO
    After the success of Yojimbo, Kurosawa teamed up once again with Mifune one year later to make this comedy of manners. The film, which follows a man fighting corruption in local government, offers a twist on the classic Samurai tale by gently, but perfectly parodying the conventions of the Japanese period action movie tradition.
    Japan | 1962 | 99 minutes | Japanese language, with optional English subtitles | Original aspect 2.35:1

Running times are to be confirmed

Special features

  • All films presented in High Definition
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • The Art of Akira Kurosawa (2013, 49 mins): Asian-cinema expert Tony Rayns discusses Kurosawa's career and influence
  • Interview with filmmaker George Lucas (2001, 8 mins)
  • Interview with filmmaker Alex Cox (2003, 9 mins)
  • Introduction to Sanjuro by Alex Cox (2003, 5 mins)
  • Full-length audio commentary on Throne of Blood by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck
  • Full-length audio commentary on Yojimbo by film critic Philip Kemp

Review

'The pictorial shakespeare of our time' --Steven Spielberg

'His influence on filmmakers throughout the entire world is so profound' --Martin Scorsese

'I have learned more from him than from almost any other fimmaker on the face of the earth' --Steven Spielberg

'His influence on filmmakers throughout the entire world is so profound' --Martin Scorsese

'I have learned more from him than from almost any other fimmaker on the face of the earth' --Steven Spielberg

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
To begin, obviously these are all brilliant movies, an almost perfect collection (but why no Rashomon? I guess the bandit isn't a samurai...).

However, there are two issues with the particular versions presented:
(1) Seven Samurai is the standard UK c.3h10m edit, which is c.20m shorter than the full Japanese version (or so I understand, I've only ever seen this version though myself).
(2) Yojimbo is supposed to be in anamorphic widescreen, according to the box, but isn't. It's widescreen but in 4:3 format with the result that it plays in a box in the middle of the screen on a modern TV (you can zoom in using the aspect ratio function on your telly, but that's not ideal as it reduces sharpness).

Basically, I get the impression that this is just a reboxing of several previous DVD releases together, rather than any kind of definitive / remastered type release. Don't be afraid to buy, as these are all awesome films, but do be aware that there are some mild issues.
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Format: DVD
The films are great, this review does not pertain to the films themselves, rather the quality of this product.
If you are hoping to get the best quality films you can, go elsewhere, the transfers are no amazing.
I was happy with four of the five films, but Yojimbo (my favourite in particular) was ruined by BFIs useless transfer.
The 2.35:1 picture is forced into a 4:3 letterbox, meaning if you (like anyone in the 21st century that's into films) have a widescreen TV, there are HUGE black bars above, below, to the left and to the right of the tiny image.
Zooming into the image, assuming you have that option, destroys what little quality is left, and you are left with a screen resembling a 1980s 8-bit Nintendo game.

If you want high quality versions of Kurosawa's films, look elsewhere.
Four of the five films are okay, but not great, in terms of picture quality, but Yojimbo's quality is so bad I give this boxset 3/5.
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BFI region 2 is an absolute discrace. 15 mins cut from seven samurai and the subs are different from the far superior criterion collection version. the picture quality is not good but on yojimbo and throne of blood you miss so much of whats going on because the dark areas are just pitch black and block any body or thing as if they are hiding in a shadow. this is not acceptable.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I will get straight to the point. There are no subtitles to translate the songs/singing which are contained in some scenes in The Hidden Fortress and Throne of Blood. Where as this is absolutely a minor niggle, it is still a niggle. So, for example, the old "womans" song in cobweb forest in Throne of Blood has no subtitles. The songs themselves do add to the overall plot somewhat, but not majorly so, and are dialogue in their own right. It would simply be nice to know what is being sung, basically. What's baffling is that the DVD version of this exact same box set released by BFI contains the according subtitles for these song scenes, but here in this Blu-Ray version they are completely absent for some reason. I'm going to have to assume a different subtitle track has been used in this version of which its creator has decided that translating the songs is unnecessary, unfortunately.

Granted, and as I said earlier, this is but a minor niggle. I will add that I wouldn't allow this from preventing you from purchasing this still great set. I'm simply establishing this small issue for your benefit. The more you know I suppose.

The films themselves are still of their original excellence and now look and sound even greater via some truly beautiful HD presentation. A must-buy at the end of the day, for any Kurosawa fan or serious film buff.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The transfers are great, and I would normally give this 5 stars, however, the packaging is very cheap and nasty and won't stand the test of time, and I really don't like that Sanjuro and Yojimbo are on the same disc, which, for the price is somewhat unacceptable. BFI you have let yourselves down.
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Akira Kurosawa - The Samurai Collection is a set of 5 films containing some of the greatest films ever made. The films are in Japanese and have English subtitling. The subtitles are excellent and use some really quite complex and archaic English words when describing different ranks and careers of the feudal era which helps to set the films in time. There are a couple of Extras in the collection but this is a set about the outstanding film content. The picture quality is excellent with barely any flickering.

The first disc contains The Seven Samurai - rightly lauded as among the finest films of all-time. The disc also contains a short academic analysis of the film and a couple of written notes. The film itself is utterly magnificent. A village of farmers are under threat from bandits in feudal Japan. The farmers hatch a plan to hire some of the notorious Samurai caste to protect them from the bandits. The two castes of farmer and of samurai forge an unlikely alliance to eventually fight back against the bandits.

Seven Samurai is categorised as an action film but the reason it is so well received is because it is a character film. The Seven are complex characters, each driven by slightly different motivation and each representing a facet of the Way of the Warrior. Stoic Kambei represents the very best of Bushido - honour, dignity, and tremendous skill. Kambei's character is introduced early on as he seeks to save a child from the clutches of a kidnapper. The symbolic top-knot cutting to help achieve his goal places Kambei instantly as a sympathetic character with a strong moral conviction. This one simple act sets up Kambei in the audience's mind and is filled with rich Japanese cultural/historical reference.
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