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AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa (The Criterion Collection) (2009)

Toshirô Mifune , Tatsuya Nakadai , Akira Kurosawa  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Toshirô Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi, Yûnosuke Itô, Takashi Shimura
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Anonymous, Eijirô Hisaita, Evan Hunter, Fumio Hayasaka
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 25
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: December 8, 2009
  • Run Time: 3072 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002NOZUEW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,104 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "AK 100: 25 Films of Akira Kurosawa (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

Deluxe linen-bound collector's set includes 25 films plus illustrated book
Book features essays by Stephen Prince and Donald Richie
Book features an introduction and notes on each film by Stephen Prince
A remembrance by Donald Richie
Includes 4 films never released on DVD

Editorial Reviews

The creator of such timeless masterpieces as Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and High and Low, Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential and beloved filmmakers who ever lived—and for many the greatest artist the medium has known. Now, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, the Criterion Collection is proud to present this deluxe box set celebrating his astonishing career. Featuring twenty-five of the films he made over the course of his fifty years in movies—from samurai epics to postwar noirs to Shakespeare adaptations—AK 100 is the most complete set of his works ever released in this country, and includes four rare films that have never been available on DVD.

Includes:
Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
Akira Kurosawa’s dazzling debut as a director is about the rivalry between judo and jujitsu, and it concerns the moral education and enlightenment of Sanshiro, played by Susumu Fujita.

The Most Beautiful (1944)
Akira Kurosawa’s patriotic World War II morale booster focuses on a volunteer corps of women working at an optics factory to produce lenses for binoculars and targeting scopes, and was shot on location at the Nippon Kogaku factory in Hiratsuka.

Sanshiro Sugata Part Two (1945)
This sequel to Akira Kurosawa’s first film, which Kurosawa was compelled to make under studio pressure, reunites most of the principal cast members from the original.

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
The story of Kurosawa’s The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail derives from Noh and Kabuki plays depicting a famous twelfth-century incident in which the lord Yoshitsune and a small group of samurai cross enemy territory disguised as monks and must persuade border guards to let them through.

No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)
In Akira Kurosawa’s first film after the end of World War II, future beloved Ozu regular Setsuko Hara gives an astonishing performance as Yukie, who transforms herself from genteel bourgeois daughter to independent social activist during a tumultuous decade in Japanese history.

One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
This affectionate paean to young love is also a frank examination by Akira Kurosawa of the harsh realities of postwar Japan. During a Sunday trip into war-ravaged Tokyo, Yuzo and Masako look for work and lodging, as well as affordable entertainments to pass the time.

Drunken Angel (1948)
In this powerful early noir from the great Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune bursts onto the screen as a volatile, tubercular criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician.

Stray Dog (1949)
When a pickpocket steals a rookie detective’s gun on a hot, crowded bus, the cop goes undercover in a desperate attempt to right the wrong. Kurosawa’s thrilling noir probes the squalid world of postwar Japan and the nature of the criminal mind.

Scandal (1950)
A handsome, suave Toshiro Mifune lights up the screen as painter Ichiro, whose circumstantial meeting with a famous singer is twisted by the tabloid press into a torrid affair. Ichiro files a lawsuit against the seedy gossip magazine, but his lawyer, Hiruta (Takashi Shimura), is playing both sides.

Rashomon (1950)
The murder of a man and the rape of his wife in a forest grove—seen from four different perspectives. Akira Kurosawa’s meditation on the nature of “truth” transformed narrative cinema as we know it.

The Idiot (1951)
The Idiot, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece about a wayward, pure soul’s reintegration into society—updated by Kurosawa to capture Japan’s postwar aimlessness—was a victim of studio interference and public indifference. Today, this “folly” looks ever more fascinating.

Ikiru (1952)
An aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer decides to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days. Considered by some to be Akira Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, Ikiru offers a multifaceted look at a life through a prism of perspectives.

Seven Samurai (1954)
In Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai), sixteenth-century villagers hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This gripping three-hour ride is one of the most beloved movie epics of all time.

I Live in Fear (1955)
I Live in Fear presents Toshiro Mifune as an elderly, stubborn businessman so fearful of a nuclear attack that he resolves to move his reluctant family to South America. Kurosawa depicts a society emerging from the shadows but still terrorized by memories of the past and anxieties for the future.

Throne of Blood (1957)
Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood reimagines Macbeth in feudal Japan. Starring Kurosawa’s longtime collaborator Toshiro Mifune and the legendary Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife, the film tells of a valiant warrior’s savage rise to power and his ignominious fall.

The Lower Depths (1957)
Working with his most celebrated actor, Toshiro Mifune, Akira Kurosawa faithfully adapts Maxim Gorky’s classic proletariat play, keeping the original’s focus on the conflict between illusion and reality.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)
A general and a princess must dodge enemy clans while smuggling the royal treasure out of hostile territory with two bumbling, conniving peasants at their sides; it’s a spirited adventure that only Akira Kurosawa could create.

The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
A young executive hunts down his father’s killer in director Akira Kurosawa’s scathing The Bad Sleep Well. Continuing his legendary collaboration with actor Toshiro Mifune, Kurosawa combines elements of Hamlet and American film noir to chilling effect.

Yojimbo (1961)
To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) turns a range war between two evil clans to his own advantage in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic Yojimbo.

Sanjuro (1962)
In Kurosawa’s sly companion piece to Yojimbo, the jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan’s evil influences, and in the process turns their image of a “proper” samurai on its ear.

High and Low (1963)
Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low, a compelling race-against-time thriller and a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society.

Red Beard (1965)
A testament to the goodness of humankind, Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard chronicles the tumultuous relationship between an arrogant young doctor and a compassionate clinic director (Toshiro Mifune, in his last role for Kurosawa).

Dodes’ka-den (1970)
By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawa’s Dodes’ka-den follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Kurosawa’s gloriously shot first color film displays all of his hopes, fears, and artistic passion.

Kagemusha (1980)
In his late, color masterpiece, Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a meditation on the nature of power.

Madadayo (1993)
Kurosawa’s final film is a tribute to Hyakken Uchida (Tatsuo Matsmura), an educator and writer of enormously popular aphoristic stories. Based on Uchida’s writings, the film pieces a narrative together with distinct episodes—anecdotes and parties, ceremonies and celebrations.

Stills from AK 100 (Click for larger image)








Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death in the Dust and the Wind December 6, 2003
Format:DVD
Although it lacks the scope of THE SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD, and other more widely known films by the celebrated Akira Kurosawa, the 1961 YOJIMBO (also known as BODYGUARD) is one of the most important films of the second half of the 20th Century--and a film that was deeply influenced by American film. Even so, YOJIMBO stands on its own merits: it's a magnificent piece of cinema that will fascinate even those who normally turn up their noses at "movies with subtitles."

In theory, the film is based on the 1929 Dashiell Hammett novel RED HARVEST--but transports the basic story to a period in Japan when the Samurai class has fallen on hard times and must seek employment as common body guards. Sanjuro Kuwabatake (brilliantly played by Toshiro Mifune, who appeared in several Kurosawa films) is such a one, a scruffy looking and aging warrior who finds himself caught between warring factions of a Japanese village and responds by playing the two against each other.

One of the film's greatest assets is its visual style. Kurosawa is very clearly influenced by the look of the American western here, and most particularly so, in my opinion, by HIGH NOON. Consequently, YOJIMBO leaps the cultural divide with considerable ease--but Kurosawa uses the images of empty streets and the lone warrior to considerably different effect, presenting him as a dangerous figure who emerges from the dust and the wind to rip wide his foes. But the film does not rely on visual style alone: there is plenty of hard substance here, too. The plot is tightly wound, action-intensive, and laced with a dry and very black humor, and the cast is superlative throughout.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good films,but a poor release February 25, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As there is so much written about this Box I want to share my opinion on it too !
First of all you already know that these DVDs are plain film,no extras!For a price around 300 dollars that's absolutely unacceptable,even though the films themself are pure masterpieces!
So my 5 Star-Rating only concerns the films,but not this poor release.
But even if the films don't contain any bonusmaterial,why are they also don't feature optional soundtrack-versions like a few of the individual Criterion-Releases have?
For instance the individual Release of "Rashomon" (Spine No. 138)also contains an optional english dubbed soundtrack.
The individual Criterion-releases of "The Hidden Fortress" (Spine No.116) , "Yojimbo" (Spine No.52) and "Sanjuro" (Spine No.53) also contain an optional 3.0 Soundtrack,while the releases in this box are only monaural. The individual release of "Throne of Blood" (Spine No. 190) contains 2 different subtitles to choose. One from japanese film translator Linda Hoaglund,the other from Donald Richie.The DVD in this box only features the Donald-Richie-Subtitles.
And of course the film "Dodes'ka-den".....While in 1995 released on Criterion-Laserdisc (LD 291)with a 1,66/1 format,the later DVD-Release was cut to a 1,33/1 format (The individual release (Spine No. 465) as well as the DVD in this box)!
And don't let anyone fool you by telling you how good the quality of the picture and sound are.The 4 early films that are released here for the first time ("Sanjiro Sugata part 1 and part 2","The Most Beautiful" and "Those who Tread on the Tigers Tail")have a poor picture and sound quality.In fact even someone who's able understanding the japanese language can't watch the films "Sanjiro Sugata Part 1 and 2" without subtitles.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awesome... but falls short. January 12, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Thank you so much Criterion for releasing all of their licensed Akira Kurosawa films in a single boxset! This is one epic collection in every sense of the word!

Most arm-chair critics do not take into account or acknowledge companies like Criterion need to pay royalties for the right to release films! And the royalty often come with an expiration date. An example of this is Kurosawa's 1985 film RAN was released on DVD and was scheduled to be released on Blu-ray only to have the rights expired. It was reverted back to Studio Canal, who eventually decided to release their own Blu-ray/DVD instead (at the time of this writing). Royalties/licenses are primary reasons why the following 5 titles are missing from this collection to make it COMPLETE:

The Quiet Duel
Dersu Uzala
Ran
Dreams
Rhapsody in August

I'm not an industry insider nor do I work for Criterion so I do not know the business decisions those 5 films aren't included in this collection. Remember, Criterion is business first, film purist second. My guess is it is not for the lack of trying to obtain the rights to release those 5 in this boxset. It's possible that either the license/copyright owners want too much money or there might not have been a great film print to begin with and it would take even longer for a set like this to be released! It's not like Criterion is sitting around with nothing to do =P. So, it isn't really Criterion's fault for not including every single film Akira Kurosawa has directed! This boxset is already monumental for the fact that Criterion took the time to do it in the first place! For that, I am grateful!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good old movie
Published 2 days ago by Yo
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior entertainment.
Another classic film from Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune recreates his powerful, crafty, masterless samurai, Sanjuro, who helps a group of well-meaning, but foolish and inept,... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Elaine Bourne Kent
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful film, arrived on time in the best of ...
Wonderful film, arrived on time in the best of shape, great to have this as part of my collection. THANKS
Published 15 days ago by Robert Leonard Moran
5.0 out of 5 stars Haba-yo!
This film is fantastic! Amazing story, music, art direction, acting, pure grittiness! A samurai walks into a town of death with two dueling families, there’s destruction... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Surferofromantica
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Awesome, the best box I have purchased. As a Kurosawa fan, I am honored to have this set for my collection.
Published 3 months ago by franz hernandez
4.0 out of 5 stars akira kurosawa is a superb director
COMPLAINT; The rental film is too old. Choppy and the sound doesn't come thru and the picture was jerky(?) at times. Read more
Published 4 months ago by wayson shikiya
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!
I actually watched this for a Japanese History and Culture class project. I'm nothing of a film guru, and until I started doing research on this film I had no idea there was such a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by FreebooterFox
4.0 out of 5 stars "Fistfull of Dollars" Samurai style
Here is a dvd where a few of the hired thugs have more character than the craven village people who are just despicable, all of this makes Sanjuro like a Greek God dropping from... Read more
Published 5 months ago by RCMP
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Toshiro Mifune is one of my favorite actors. He's other good movies are Hidden Fortress and Seven Samurai. In Yojimbo he plays a ronin and a soldier of fortune. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie
You can see the huge influence this movie made on films, even today. Yojimbo is well worth the price and a great movie.
Published 6 months ago by Kim Young
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Blu-ray Version coming out next year?
For such a collection of his films, it seems an oversight (?) that a Blu-Ray version is not available.
May 13, 2010 by AP |  See all 2 posts
Just got the AK - 100
I remember seeing this movie at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA, and I think it was pretty dark there too. Criterion may have wanted to preserve the original look of the film rather than boosting the brightness. You can try boosting the brightness of your TV. I've had to do this at home... Read More
Jan 6, 2010 by Dan Petitpas |  See all 3 posts
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