Kagemusha (1980) (Criterion Collection) UK Only [Blu-ray] 
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Just as many American studio-era directors found acclaim abroad that was denied them in their home country, by 1980 Akira Kurosawa's reputation outside Japan exceeded his esteem at home. As uncompromising as ever, he found considerable difficulty securing backing for his ambitious projects. Unsure he would be able to film it, the director, an aspiring artist before he entered filmmaking, converted Kagemusha into a series of paintings, and it was partly on the basis of these that he won the financial support of longtime admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Set in the 16th century, when powerful warlords competed for control of Japan, it offers an examination of the nature of political power and the slipperiness of identity. For some time, Shingen Takeda Tatsuya Nakadai has been able to stay removed from the heat of battle by using his brother Nobukado Tsutomu Yamazaki as a double. As the film opens, Nobukado offers another option, having discovered a condemned thief (also pla
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Language : Japanese
- Package Dimensions : 17.2 x 13.6 x 1.4 cm; 100 Grams
- Media Format : Blu-ray
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Studio : Sony Pictures
- ASIN : B08QX54M31
- Country of origin : United Kingdom
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: 19,063 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- 14,594 in Movies (Movies & TV)
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When I started to get into the Samurai movie genre, Kagemusha was always one that was a bit of a hit or miss with Akira Kurosawa fans. It seems some people are disappointed that it isn't action orientated like past movies, it's a bit slow at three hours or is just hard to follow. Personally speaking, I think it's easily his most underrated and underappreciated movie. The complaints that people have are justified to a point. This isn't by any means an action movie and it's purposely made to be a slow burn. It's definitely an acquired taste.
The story seems to be rooted in a specific part of Japanese history and has been written to be quite subtle. Once I got myself more familiar with this period in Japanese history, it really helped me understand better on my second viewing. However, it's not necessary for first time viewing, especially if you've got a good attention span. The story is slow but all the characters are very easily identifiable and their motivations are very clear. It's just the details of who is fighting who that can be confusing. The actors do a fantastic job with their roles. Tatsuya Nakadai as Takeda Shingen and Tsutomu Yamazaki as Takeda Nobukado are a great on screen duo. They play off of one another very well and are the highlight of the film. Though we didn't see him much, Daisuke Ryu as Oda Nubanaga was quite captivating on screen. He had a really good presence and really stuck out in the short time he had.
Though I do enjoy the subtleties of the story, the visuals of Kagemusha is one of its strong points. There's some beautiful visuals and excellent cinematography. This shouldn't too much of a surprise for Kurosawa fans, as he always had an eye for beautiful locations, camera angles and lighting etc. There's a lot of colour in the film, everything from blues, yellows, greens, purple and a lot of red. It's used very well in the clothing, flags and armour but it really shows in the dream sequence and the few scenes that hinted at combat. We don't ever see any action in this film, it's always off screen or shown with the use of very bright colours in the distance. It's hard to describe but once you see it, you'll know what I mean. It's an interesting artistic choice and I love it. It helps his film standout from others, especially his black and white classics.
I had previously owned an older version of the film. It was quite blurry and had too much red in the picture, causing a lot of blues to look purple etc. This Criterion version is a huge upgrade. Not only is the picture a lot cleaner, it's also a lot sharper and the colour has been corrected. It's a fantastic looking film and definitely worth the extra money. There's a number of cool extras which is also worth looking into for fans of the director. There's a forty one minute making of, an interview with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola discussing their love of Kurosawa's work, a construction of the film's stories through Kurosawa's paintings and much more. It's a really well put together package.
There's absolutely no need to pick up the old bluray copy. I don't even think it's in print anymore. This Criterion edition is FAR superior and well worth your money for fans of Japanese cinema. This isn't Kurosawa's best film but it is easily his most underrated (as I said above). It's a beautiful representation of the movie and well worth picking up.
As the grimy and morally bankrupt criminal who happens to be the double to a powerful warlord our hero learns to become the master, his loyalty to his adopted clan and understanding of the man he has to impersonate grows over time leading to a tragic climax of betrayal and defeat. DON'T get an inferior grainy copy because you'll lose the gorgeous colours and imagary of a beautifully crafted film. At times surreal, at others packed with amazing action scenes and a cast of thousands. but always a thing of Beauty.
Swift as the wind... Quiet as a forest... Fierce as fire... Immovable as a mountain - based around a true story of the fall of theTakeda clan