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Samurai Trilogy (Criterion Collection) (Uk Only)

4.8 out of 5 stars 767 ratings

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Genre Action & Adventure
Format Import
Language English
Runtime 5 hours

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Product description

The Samurai Trilogy directed by HIROSHI INAGAKI (The Rickshaw Man) and starring the inimitable TOSHIRO MIFUNE (Seven Samurai) was one of Japans most successful exports of the 1950s, a rousing, emotionally gripping tale of combat and self-discovery. Based on a novel thats often called Japans Gone with the Wind, this sweeping saga fictionalises the life of the legendary seventeenth-century swordsman (and writer and artist) Musashi Miyamoto, following him on his path from unruly youth to enlightened warrior. With these three films - 1954s Oscar-winning Musashi Miyamoto, 1955s Duel at Ichijoji Temple, and 1956s Duel at Ganryu Island - Inagaki created a passionate epic thats equal parts tender love story and bloody action. BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:New high-definition digital restorations of all three films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracksNew interviews with translator and historian William Scott Wilson about the real-life Musashi Miyamoto, the inspiration for the hero of the filmsTrailersNew English subtitle translationsPLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film historian Stephen Prince and Wilson

Product details

  • Aspect Ratio ‏ : ‎ Unknown
  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Product dimensions ‏ : ‎ 17.5 x 13.69 x 1.7 cm; 134.09 Grams
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Import
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 5 hours
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ 6 January 2017
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English
  • Language ‏ : ‎ Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Lasgo Chrysalis LTD
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01HNYL5GS
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 767 ratings

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Top review from Australia

Reviewed in Australia on 13 December 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr. E. A. Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Samurai Trilogy Criterion Blu ray review
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 November 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Samurai Trilogy Criterion Blu ray review
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 November 2016
Hiroshi Inagaki's classics of 1950s Japanese cinema, "Samurai I:Musashi Miyamoto", "Samurai II:Duel At Ichijoji Temple" and "Samurai III:Duel At Ganryu Island" better known collectively as the Samurai Trilogy all make their UK Blu ray debuts as part of The Criterion Collection. Replicating everything that graced the 2 disc US package from the high definition picture and lossless audio through to the extras and glossy insert booklet these are of course region B compatible for the UK, Europe and Australia.

Based on the life and times of the legendary Musashi Miyamoto, philosopher, artist and quite possibly the greatest swordsman and Samurai in Japanese history not to mention author of the highly influential martial arts text book "The Book Of Five Rings". As important to Japanese culture as the likes of Robin Hood or Billy The Kid would have been to western audiences of the time Miyamoto has been dramatised on every available medium from television, radio and literature through to stage and in the case of this review screen. Over a series of three films spanning well over five hours the narrative follows Musashi Miyamoto portrayed by Akira Kurosawa regular Toshirô Mifune from restless hot headed peasant boy called Takezo through to briefly soldier, wanted fugitive, object of female desire and finally master swordsman whilst in this time amassing victories in many duels and discovering his inner strengths all culminating in a life brimming with recognition and self discovery.
Monumental in their scope The Samurai Trilogy produced at the renowned Toho Studios has often been described as the Japanese "Gone With The Wind" so broad and deep was it's sprawling and ambitious narrative despite being less flamboyant or creative when compared to Kurosawa's more commercially famous work of the same period with the story told in a rather conventional and straightforward manner. The less frantic and more deliberate pace of Inagaki's pictures coupled with Toshirô Mifune's charismatic performance as Miyamoto help the viewer to understand the transformation of the character through the different stages in his development and although it takes three movies to cover all of this they are never once dull with the spiritual character building side often being punctuated by intense (though remarkably bloodless) duels and large scale battles. In all essence these three separate pictures could be seen as one long continuous feature with recurring characters and themes and as thus should be viewed in order (and preferably over a short period of time) so as to fully understand and appreciate the epic storytelling.
Ravishingly shot in vivid Eastman colour (some of the first to be done so in Japan) with imagery that resembles painterly works of art there is no doubting that these movies look very special rivaling the big studio classics of the West and remain thoroughly enchanting and visually exquisite. Shot in a variety of locations from the consistently scenic Japanese countryside through to folklore inspired soundstages there are many moments which give the impression that feudal Japan was shrouded in an almost fairytale ambiance. Photographed in 1.33:1 like the vast majority of pre 1960 Japanese cinema, director Hiroshi Inagaki achieved a fantastic sense of space and depth despite the narrow window boxed framing with perfectly assembled compositions that would make John Ford proud. Incidentally US actor William Holden a self proclaimed fan of Asian cinema famously picked up the American rights for the first movie in the trilogy and pushed for it to be nominated for the best foreign language film at the Academy Awards of 1955 which it did so beating Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" in the process.
There is no doubting that The Samurai Trilogy is an incredibly important series of films who's influence can be seen throughout Japanese and Western cinema alike. Undoubtedly these are less well known than Kurosawa's Samurai pictures and the vastness of the storylines coupled with the occasionally melodramatic tone could be a little heavy going for novices of Japanese cinema who are possibly best advised to check out some of the more flamboyant and action packed Kurosawa pictures first. For the initiated though Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy comes highly recommended as a set of lavish and beautifully photographed historical costume dramas loaded with colour and cultural symbolism that lovers of World Cinema are sure to enjoy all the more thanks to this new two disc Blu ray set from Criterion.

All three of Hiroshi Inagaki's movies slice onto Blu ray courtesy of Criterion in rather splendid AVC encoded MPEG-4 1080p transfers framed at the correct fullscreen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. According to the restoration notes in the included liner booklet these were taken from 35mm low contrast prints pulled from the original camera negatives and look simply ravishingly here in high definition. Now this is where I admit this is the first time I have seen these movies so unfortunately I don't already have a benchmark set but judging by the restoration work here I doubt these have ever looked better. Clarity and detail are exceptional from the intricate patterns in costuming, sets and props whilst texturing in foliage, rustic villages and dusty tracks is visibly open to study. Depth and dimensionality are also strong perfect for some of the almost three dimensional camera set ups and beautifully choreographed battle scenes throughout. Contrast is crisp and natural for the daytime exteriors whilst also being appropriately dark and moody for the many scenes shot on the lavish soundstages which when coupled with inky blacks create wonderful levels of shadow detail. Most importantly colours appear rich and vivid. The first film is alot more subdued in terms of colour palette with a more earthy appearance especially for the muddy war time segments. As the films progress the colours become more striking from the vibrant clothing worn by certain cast members through to the well saturated red and orange of the sunrise for the beach set finalé. Thankfully everything is handled admirably in this department, always retaining distinct true to life hues indicative of the age of the pictures at hand and skin tones too are authentic to the source and period.
As is always the case with Criterion great steps were put into place to restore these 60+ year old features to their former glory and the results are pleasing with no obvious traces of print damage although source related problems do persist at certain points with odd colour fluctuations especially noticeable during the first duel in Samurai II. The natural grain structure has been preserved but again can differ from one scene to the next mostly appearing organic but on occasion looking slightly uneven. Thankfully it doesn't appear as if Criterion have used any overt manipulation during the mastering process meaning these retain their solid filmic quality.

All three movies make their transition to high definition audio with uncompressed 24bit 1.0 LPCM monaural soundtracks in their original Japanese at 1152kbps complete with English subtitles. These sound flat but authentic with clear dialogue and foley effects but no real depth although the clanging of swords does sound suitably metallic and sharp. Music reproduction is equally clear if slightly top heavy lacking in range especially low frequencies. I did notice a few age related anomalies with occasional distortion to voices most notably during "Duel At Ichijoji Temple" but in the whole it is hard to really fault the lossless audio tracks here.

The supplementary features here mirror the region A release from Criterion and whilst not being as fulfilling or enlightening as what was found on other classic movies in the collection are interesting enough if all to brief nonetheless.
Each instalment of the trilogy receives a separate although regrettably short interview with translator and film historian William Scott Wilson who discusses the events of the film it accompanies. All are exclusives to The Criterion Collection running at just u see 10 minutes apiece and are presented in 1080p.
Also included are the theatrical trailers for each movie presented in 1080i.
As is always the case with Criterion a glossy insert is also included as part of the package. This particular release contains a rather handsome 24 page illustrated booklet with input from Stephen Prince and again William Scott Wilson.

Epic in scope and simply gorgeous to look at Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy will hopefully garner a whole new audience thanks to its inclusion in the UK branch of The Criterion Collection. Identical in terms of quality to it's US counterpart with the same superb quality transfers this of course comes highly recommended to adventurous newcomers and fans of World Cinema alike.
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51 people found this helpful
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Brighton Breezy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Films, Pricey at RRP
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 July 2021
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2 people found this helpful
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The Neil Deal
5.0 out of 5 stars Mifune at his best without Kurosawa
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 April 2022
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4.0 out of 5 stars Miyamoto Musashi
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 January 2012
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7 people found this helpful
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Dimitrie Sandu
5.0 out of 5 stars I fount the picture detail and colors of this remastered version to be amazing. Could not believe a 50 year old movie ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 July 2017
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6 people found this helpful
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