Overall | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

The Samurai Trilogy (1954)

The Samurai Trilogy (1954)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

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Overall Package

     The Samurai Trilogy, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, is the life story of Takezo, who became Musashi Miyamoto one of the most famous samurai in 17th century Japan. The films are heavily fictionalised as they is based upon the novels written in the 1930’s by Eiji Yoshikawa and then adapted from a play by Hideji Hojo by Inagaki and Tokuhei Wakao. They are melodramatic but are beautifully photographed, contain an outstanding performance by Toshiro Mifune and are important chambara films in the history of Japanese cinema.

     The video and audio are not great but are acceptable for films over 50 years old. The extras are limited to trailers and stills galleries.

     The three films in The Samurai Trilogy, although in different packaging, are identical to the previous release by Madman but if you do not have the films for a RRP of $29.95 they are well worth the investment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Eastern Eye trailers x 3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1954
Running Time 89:40
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiroshi Inagaki
Studio
Distributor
Toho Company
Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Rentaro Mikuni
Kuroemon Onoe
Kaoru Yachigusa
Mariko Okada
Mitsuko Mito
Eiko Miyoshi
Akihiko Hirata
Kusuo Abe
Eitarô Ozawa
Akira Tani
Seijiro Onda
Fumito Matsuo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ikuma Dan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Samurai Trilogy, directed by Hiroshi Inagaki, of which Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto is the first film, is the life story of Takezo who became known as Musashi Miyamoto, one of the most famous samurai in 17th century Japan. Of course, the film is heavily fictionalised as it is based upon the novels written in the 1930’s by Eiji Yoshikawa, and then adapted from a play by Hideji Hojo by director Inagaki and Tokuhei Wakao.

     1600 Japan. Takezo (Toshiro Mifune) and Matahachi (Rentaro Mikuni) are two village peasants with dreams of becoming samurai. Takezo is a wild man and an orphan but Matahachi has a mother Osugi (Eiko Miyoshi) and a fiancé Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) who loves him. Dreaming of glory, they leave the village to join the army of the local lord, but at the Battle of Sekigahara their side is heavily defeated and Matahachi wounded. Fleeing as fugitives Takezo and Matahachi stumble upon the house of the widow Oko (Mitsuko Mito) and her sixteen year old daughter Akemi (Mariko Okada) where they recover for three months. Both women have their eye on Takezo and when he defeats some bandits Oko offers herself to him, but he refuses and leaves the house. Oko tells Matahachi that Takezo propositioned her, and they and Akemi leave and travel to Kyoto where Matahachi marries Oko.

     Takezo returns to his village to tell Osugi that her son is not dead as she believes, but he is declared a bandit and hunted relentlessly by the authorities and the villagers. Takezo is finally captured by the priest Takuan (Kuroemon Onoe) who saves his life but decides to teach him some humility, suspending Takezo from a tree in all weathers. By now Otsu is aware that her fiancé Matahachi has married another, and she takes pity on Takezo and helps him escape. They start to fall in love but Otsu is captured although Takezo escapes. In attempting to rescue Otsu, Takezo is trapped by Takuan and imprisoned in a room for three years with the books that allow Takezo to study to achieve some understanding and humility. As Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto ends, Takezo, now known as Musashi Miyamoto, embarks on a journey throughout Japan to attain knowledge and enlightenment, Otsu awaits for him at the Hanada Bridge, Matahachi is disillusioned in Kyoto where his wife is cheating on him, Akemi is still dreaming of Takezo and Matahachi’s mother Osugi, blaming all her family’s troubles on Takezo, is after his head.

     Toshiro Mifune in the title role is wonderful. He is probably best known to Western audiences for his samurai films with Akira Kurosawa including Rashomon (1950) and Seven Samurai (1954), however Mifune was a prolific actor (he is listed in 184 films in the IMDb) in a wide range of genres and he is equally at home in serious and not so serious action films, such as Sanjuro (1962), again for Kurosawa, and the wildly entertaining Red Lion (1969) for Kihachi Okamoto. However, Musashi is the role he was born to play and he is fabulous, as is Kuroemon Onoe as a very unusual priest. The women are a mixed bag with Akemi the most interesting, but in fact the film, and some of the dramatic acting, especially by (Kaoru Yachigusa, is quite melodramatic by modern standards, a fact accentuated by the score by Dan Ikuma which, while sometimes rousing, is frequently very theatrical and overly dramatic.

     As the first part of a trilogy, Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto leaves many things unresolved. But the film is beautifully photographed by Jun Yasumoto and is still an interesting and intriguing film that won an honorary Oscar for best foreign language film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

     This film is now 60 years old and the print is variable. Some of the close-ups are good, but in the main this is a soft print that is often quite hazy. Some colours, such as greens, look deep, but others are more muted and the colours can vary quite a bit, as can the contrast, brightness and skin tones. Blacks are mostly good, but shadow detail is indistinct and in some night scenes it is difficult to see what is happening.

     The print has some light grain, but also frequent marks, although mostly quite small, vertical scratches, occasional slight macro blocking and reel change markers. Pause at 65:32 for an example of scratches, marks and unnatural colours.

    English subtitles are in a yellow font and are easy to read. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     While the print is not great, nor is it all that bad and except for the shadow detail there is nothing too serious that is likely to spoil your enjoyment of the film. The scores are adjusted to reflect the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps. The film was released with mono sound, so this represents the original mix.

     Dialogue was clear, sound effects such as horse’s hooves, shouts and shots obviously lacked depth but still worked fine. In quiet moments there was a slight crackle, but not when there was music or effects. The score by Dan Ikuma while rousing was also melodramatic and theatrical.

    Lip synchronisation was occasionally approximate, but was not distracting.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate for the film, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:44)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Promotional Trailers

     Trailers for Kwaidan (3:55), Seven Samurai (4:05) and Godzilla vs Hedorah (2:13).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Releases of The Samurai Trilogy, as well as the individual films, have been around for a while. In the US, Criterion has released a couple of Region 1 box sets of the films, the latest advertised as having new transfers. I have not seen a review of this newest DVD release, although the Blu-ray released at the same time looks spectacular. If your system will play Region 1 that looks the pick, otherwise stick to our Region 4 re-release.

Summary

     Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto is the first film in The Samurai Trilogy, the life story of Musashi Miyamoto. The film is beautifully photographed, while Toshiro Mifune is outstanding in the title role.

     The video and audio are acceptable for a 60 year old film. The extras are limited to trailers and a stills gallery.

     The three films in The Samurai Trilogy, although in different packaging, are identical to the previous release by Madman. Yet Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954), Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) are collectively important chambara films in the history of Japanese cinema and if you do not have the films for a RRP of $29.95 they are well worth the investment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, August 19, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

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Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 99:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiroshi Inagaki
Studio
Distributor
Toho Company
Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Koji Tsuruta
Mariko Okada
Kaoru Yachigusa
Michiyo Kogure
Mitsuko Mito
Akihiko Hirata
Daisuke Katô
Kuroemon Onoe
Sachio Sakai
Yu Fujiki
Machiko Kitagawa
Eiko Miyoshi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ikuma Dan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is the second in The Samurai Trilogy directed by Hiroshi Inagaki about the life of Musashi Miyamoto, one of the most famous samurai in 17th century Japan.

     Takezo / Musashi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune) travels around Japan fighting duels. He is a strong fighter, but has not yet learnt to temper his strength with compassion and chivalry. Meanwhile, Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) waits for him in Kyoto where Akemi (Mariko Okada), still dreaming of Takezo, is courted by Seijuro Yoshioka (Akihiko Hirata), head of the famous Yoshioka fencing school. Musashi comes to Kyoto, and seeks a duel with Seijuro. Also in Kyoto is the young, but lethal, samurai Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) who is yet to make a name for himself.

     Akemi meets Otsu, and tells her Takezo has asked Akemi to marry him. In distress Otsu flees back to the temple of priest Takuan (Kuroemon Onoe) and asks to become a nun. Seijuro’s retainers do not want him to face Takezo and ambush Takezo a number of times, but fail to kill him. To avoid attacks Takezo drops out of sight in the geisha house of Dayu Yoshino (Michiyo Kogure) but accepts a challenge to fight Seijuro at dawn at the Ichijoji Temple. Akemi warns Takezo that it is a trap and that 80 Yoshioka fighters will be there instead of Seijuro, and she urges Takezo to run away with her instead. Takezo refuses her, and the act is witnessed by Otsu. Takezo takes up the challenge at the temple, watched by Kojiro and Akemi, but is forced by weight of numbers to retreat. In the woods he comes across Seijuro and they fight. Takezo wins, but he heeds some of the lessons he has learned and lets Seijuro live. Exhausted, Takezo is helped by Otsu and they talk about a life together; he has started to learn the lessons of chivalry and is feeling peaceful for the first time. But when he attempts to caress and kiss Otsu she is distraught and although she has waited four years for Takezo she rejects his advances. In shock, Takezo renounces affection, and sets out again on the road.

     Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is a different film from the first, which concentrated upon the title character. The first half of this film is more the story of Akemi and her relationships with her suitor Seijuro, the samurai Kojiro and her mother Oko (Mitsuko Mito), who in this film runs away from her husband Matahachi (Sachio Sakai) with her lover, leaving Akime to fend for herself. Indeed, although Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple has some exciting action sequences, the film continues to be melodramatic where Masashi and women are involved. The women tend to fall into two groups: those who offer themselves to Takezo, and Otsu who doesn’t. In the first category are Oko and Akime, who he rejects, and the courtesan Yoshino who he later accepts. On the other hand, his true love Otsu never declares her love although she has waited for him for years, and when Takezo makes an advance he is rejected, which may say something about the culture at the time or may not. Rather it results from the novel and stage play origins of the screenplay and dramatic licence, for it seems that Otsu and Akemi did not exist in reality.

     Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is somewhat frustrating with its melodramatic moments, but the film is beautifully photographed by Jun Yasumoto, Toshiro Mifune in the title role continues to be great to watch and the battle against numbers at the climax of the film is exciting. As the second part in a trilogy, it introduces a new adversary for Musashi but still leaves most things unresolved.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

     This film is now 60 years old and the print is variable. Some of the close-ups are good, but in the main this is a soft print that is often quite hazy. Some colours, such as greens and the red kimonos of the geisha girls look deep, but others are more muted. As well the colours can vary quite a lot, sometimes having a distinct yellow or red hue, while the contrast, brightness and skin tones are also variable. Blacks are mostly good, but shadow detail is indistinct and in some night scenes it is very difficult to see what is happening.

     The print has some light grain, but also frequent marks, although mostly quite small, vertical scratches and reel change markers.

    English subtitles are in a yellow font and are easy to read. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     While the print is not great, nor is it all that bad and except for the shadow detail there is nothing too serious that is likely to spoil your enjoyment of the film. The score reflect the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps. The film was released with mono sound, so this represents the original mix.

     Dialogue was clear, sound effects such as horses’ hooves, shouts and water sounds obviously lacked depth but still worked fine. In quiet moments there was a slight crackle and some hiss, but not when there was music or effects. The score by Dan Ikuma was rousing and melodramatic.

    Lip synchronisation was occasionally approximate, but was not distracting.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate for the film, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Theatrical Trailer (3:38)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Releases of The Samurai Trilogy, as well as the individual films, have been around a while. In the US, Criterion has released a couple of Region 1 box sets of the films, the latest advertised as having new transfers. I have not seen a review of this newest DVD release, although the Blu-ray released at the same time looks spectacular. If your system will play Region 1 that looks the pick, otherwise stick to our Region 4 re-release.

Summary

     In Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple, the second in The Samurai Trilogy, Musashi starts to learn some lessons about himself, and women, and finds a new and deadly adversary. Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is melodramatic and, as the second part of the trilogy, it still leaves many strands unresolved.

     The video and audio are acceptable for a 60 year old film. The extras are limited to a trailer and a stills gallery.

     The three films in The Samurai Trilogy, although in different packaging, are identical to the previous release by Madman. Yet Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954), Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) are collectively important chambara films in the history of Japanese cinema and if you do not have the films for a RRP of $29.95 they are well worth the investment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) | Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

Samurai Trilogy-Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-May-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1956
Running Time 104:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hiroshi Inagaki
Studio
Distributor
Toho Company
Madman Entertainment
Starring Koji Tsuruta
Toshirô Mifune
Kaoru Yachigusa
Michiko Saga
Mariko Okada
Takashi Shimura
Minoru Chiaki
Takamaru Sasaki
Daisuke Katô
Haruo Tanaka
Kichijiro Ueda
Kokuten Kodo
Ikio Sawamura
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Ikuma Dan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island is the final film in The Samurai Trilogy directed by Hiroshi Inagaki about the life of Musashi Miyamoto, one of the most famous samurai in 17th century Japan.

     Rejected by Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa), Musashi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune) and a young boy travel the roads of Japan. Musashi has finally begun to learn mercy and to temper his power and strength with compassion. The young samurai Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) wants to make his reputation by fighting Musashi but meanwhile is seeking employment with a lord in Edo, but he is too arrogant, and too good, to be initially successful. When Kojiro and Musashi meet in Edo, Musashi declines an immediate match, and leaves the city with two companions, the young boy and the horse thief Kuma (Haruo Tanaka).

     Musashi and his companions settle in a village, build a house and become farmers. Otsu finds out where they are and goes to the village to be with Musashi, and although they love each other their reserve makes them unable to declare their love. Akemi (Mariko Okada) is still in love with Musashi and also travels to the village where, unlike the reserved Otsu, she is able to declare her love for Musashi and implore him to come away with her. Musashi refuses, and when bandits attack the village Akemi is killed protecting Otsu. But the simple life is not for Musashi. Kojiro also knows his whereabouts and sends a challenge to a duel and the two samurai meet at sunset at Ganryu Island to determine once and for all who is best. From this epic duel only one can live.

     Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island, as the final film in the trilogy, resolves a number of the plot strands, while leaving still others open. The The Samurai Trilogy films have always had two distinct plot arcs, one dealing with Musashi’s search for enlightenment to go with his prolific ability with the sword, the second his inability to relate to the women who love him. Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island is the longest film in the trilogy, and unlike the others does not include a massive pitched battle. There is the wonderful one against one climactic duel at Ganryu Island that is tense and spectacularly shot against the setting sun, and the chaotic attack by bandits against the village, but these are almost the only action in the film. Instead the film develops the character of Kojiro and the woman, Omitsu (Michiko Saga), who loves him and there is some comic relief in the character of the horse thief Kuma. But a lot of the running time is still focussed on the two contrasting women, Otsu and Akemi, and their love for Musashi.

     This strand continues to be very melodramatic, as Otsu is incapable of declaring her love, even though she has waited for Musashi for years and then followed him into the rural village. Given this, one would think that Musashi would have some idea of her feelings, but they are two people who are seldom on the same wavelength. Akemi is much more direct, but then, unlike the saintly Otsu, she is a courtesan and is rejected out of hand by Musashi. Her death in the battle is pure melodrama, days of our lives with edged weapons. Yet, even with her death opening the way for Otsu, it doesn’t happen. It may be indeed, as she says, that Musashi loves his sword more than her, but given her reserve one hardly blames him!

     Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island continues being melodramatic, but the film is beautifully shot by new cinematographer Kazuo Yamada, who worked again later with director Hiroshi Inagaki and star Mifune on Samurai Rebellion in 1967 (the same year incidentally he also shot the less than impressive Son of Godzilla). The end of the film does not tie up all the plot strands but the concluding battle is one of the most beautiful ever committed to film and Toshiro Mifune in the title role continues to be great to watch.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island, is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

     This film is over 50 years old and the print is variable. Some of the close-ups are good, but in the main this is a soft print that is often quite hazy. Some colours, such as greens, look deep, and the sunset at the end is spectacular but most of the colours are more muted and can vary quite a bit, as can the contrast, brightness and skin tones. Blacks are OK, although some turn to blue, and shadow detail is indistinct so that in some night scenes, such as the attack on the village, it is difficult to see what is happening.

     The print has some light grain, but also frequent dirt marks, although mostly quite small, vertical scratches, some quite big, and reel change markers.

    English subtitles are in a yellow font and are easy to read. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     While the print is not great, nor is it all that bad and except for the shadow detail there is nothing too serious that is likely to spoil your enjoyment of the film. The score have been adjusted to reflect the age of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps. The film was released with mono sound, so this represents the original mix.

     Dialogue was clear, sound effects such as horses’ hooves, shouts, and the fire and water effects obviously lacked depth but still worked fine. In quiet moments there was a slight hiss, but not when there was music or effects. The score by Dan Ikuma was rousing and melodramatic, but not quite as over the top as in the earlier films in the trilogy.

    Lip synchronisation was occasionally approximate, but was not distracting.

     The audio track was perfectly adequate for the film, reflecting the original release.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Theatrical Trailer (3:14)

Stills Gallery

     15 black and white film stills. Silent, use the remote to advance to the next still.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Releases of The Samurai Trilogy, as well as the individual films, have been around a while. In the US, Criterion has released a couple of Region 1 box sets of the films, the latest advertised as having new transfers. I have not seen a review of this newest DVD release, although the Blu-ray released at the same time looks spectacular. If your system will play Region 1 that looks the pick, otherwise stick to our Region 4 re-release.

Summary

     Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island as the final film in the trilogy resolves a number of the plot strands, while leaving still others open. The film is very melodramatic, but Toshiro Mifune in the title role continues to be great to watch, the film is beautifully shot and the concluding battle is one of the most beautiful ever committed to film.

     The video and audio are acceptable for a 50 plus year old film. The extras are limited to a trailer and a stills gallery.

     The three films in The Samurai Trilogy although in different packaging, are identical to the previous release by Madman. Yet Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1954), Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956) are collectively important chambara films in the history of Japanese cinema and if you do not have the films for a RRP of $29.95 they are well worth the investment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, August 23, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE