The Samurai Pirate (Daitozoku) (1963)

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Released 18-Jul-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Gallery-Photo-Production Stills
Gallery-Poster-Promotional Stills
Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 92:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Senkichi Taniguchi
Studio
Distributor
Toho
Madman Entertainment
Starring Toshirô Mifune
Tadao Nakamaru
Mie Hama
Kumi Mizuno
Ichirô Arishima
Hideyo Amamoto
Akiko Wakabayashi
Makoto Sato
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $24.95 Music Takao Saitô


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    In Samurai Pirate Japanese leading man Toshiro Mifune turns to a fantasy adventure. Better known for his samurai films with Akira Kurosawa (for example Seven Samurai (1954) or Yojimbo (1961)) or for other directors (Samurai Assassin (1964) or Incident at Blood Pass (1970), Mifune is more than capable of a comedic touch as shown in the wonderfully dark Red Lion (1969). In Samurai Pirate he is a Japanese Sinbad the Sailor type (in the USA the film was known as The Lost World of Sinbad) who comes across wizards, witches, pirates, an evil Prime Minister and a princess in danger.

     After his ship is wrecked in a storm, Sukeza (Toshiro Mifune) is cast up on the shores of a Kingdom where, if taxes are unpaid, the young girls are taken to the castle of the King never to return. Not surprisingly, the King is feared and very unpopular. In reality, the King is being slowly poisoned by his evil Prime Minister (Tadao Nakamura) helped by a Witch (Hideyo Amamoto) who has a magic mirror and a nice line in turning people into stone. When the King is dead the Prime Minister plans to marry the Princess Yaya (Mie Hama) and rule himself. Sukeza, helped by the wizard Sennin (Ichiro Arisima) and pretty bandit leader Miwa (Kumi Mizuno), decides to lend a hand.

     Samurai Pirate does not take itself seriously. It has a pantomime evil villain, a hideous witch in a white wig who turns people into stone by looking into their eyes, a beautiful princess in distress, a wizard with a special curse handed down through the generations and a hero who sorts it all out. As the hero Toshiro Mifune is suitably "heroic". In Red Lion (1969) for director Kihachi Okamoto Mifune showed that he was more than capable of a light touch but in truth he is given little to work with in Samurai Pirate and this is not his best role. Mostly he just looks bemused. Many of the special effects in Samurai Pirate also look very cheap and the action scenes are pedestrian although the final assault on the King's castle is more inventive and has some colourful moments. While there is nothing new in Samurai Pirate it is a reasonable fantasy adventure that is good clean fun and does not outstay its welcome.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The aspect ratio of Samurai Pirate is 2:35.1, its original theatrical ratio, and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is not a very good print. It has frequent noticeable dirt marks, some quite large (for example, 14:05), grain, infrequent scratches and the occasional shimmering frame (44:53). Colours are dull, contrast indifferent and variable, shadow detail quite poor and blacks just adequate. These issues, especially the artefacts, are constant and while not enough to completely spoil the viewing experience, they certainly don't help.

English subtitles are the only option. They are in a clear yellow font and don't contain any obvious spelling or grammatical errors although on some occasions there was a delay in following the dialogue. Lip synchronisation is approximate but not distracting.

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

Audio

The package states the audio is Japanese Dolby Digital dual mono. In reality it is plain mono with all sound in the central speaker and nothing in the side front or back speakers. However, dialogue is clear and the audio does get the job done. The subwoofer was not used. Music was light and cheesy which suits the film.

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

Extras

Production Stills

4 colours stills from the production.

Promotional Stills

10 Black & White Screens.

Eastern Eye Trailers

Included are Kwaidan (3:55) and Samurai Trilogy 1 (2:51). Both, but especially Kwaidan, have numerous scratches and dirt marks.

R4 vs R1

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

    I could not find a Region 1 version of Samurai Pirate. There is a Region 3 version with minimal extras, mono audio and not 16x9 enhanced. Whatever the faults of the Region 4, it seems the best around.

Summary

    Samurai Pirate is a Japanese Sinbad the Sailor style fantasy adventure complete with wizards, witches, pirates, an evil Prime Minister, a princess in danger and leading man Toshiro Mifune. It has poor video, mono audio that gets the job done and minimal extras. While there is nothing new in Samurai Pirate it is a reasonable fantasy adventure that is good clean fun and does not outstay its welcome.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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

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