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Kagemusha (The Criterion Collection) (1980)

Tatsuya Nakadai , Tsutomu Yamazaki , Akira Kurosawa  |  PG |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tatsuya Nakadai, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ken'ichi Hagiwara, Jinpachi Nezu, Hideji Ôtaki
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Masato Ide
  • Producers: Akira Kurosawa, Audie Bock, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 29, 2005
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JLEJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,767 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kagemusha (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince
  • A 40-minute documentary on the making of Kagemusha
  • Helping a Master: Coppola, Lucas, and Kagemusha, new video interviews with executive producers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas
  • Image: Kurosawa's Continuity, a new video piece that reconstructs Kagemusha through Kurosawa's paintings and sketches
  • A booklet featuring sketches by Japanese film historian Donald Richie

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In his late color masterpiece Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior) director Akira Kurosawa returned to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his celebrated career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a soaring historical epic that is also a somber meditation on the nature of power. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Kagemusha for the first time in its full-length version.

Additional Features

Criterion has put together another impressive and well-deserved package for Kurosawa's late samurai classic Kagemusha. Kagemusha is a visual treat. The only way to view this colorful, epic masterpiece is in widescreen. This newly restored, high-definition 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is stellar and the next best thing to seeing the film in the theater. The audio commentary by Kurosawa scholar, biographer, and fan Stephen Prince is nothing short of excellent. Kagemusha can run a little deep. Unless you are a hardcore Japanese film, history, and symbolism buff, Prince's informative, guiding hand will be much appreciated. The main features on the second disc are the documentaries. In the 19-minute Lucas, Coppola and Kurosawa (2005), George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola discuss how important Kurosawa's films were to their development as directors. When the opportunity arose for them to help Kurosawa produce Kagemusha in the late 1970s, they jumped at the chance to work with him. Both discuss what it was like on the set of Kagemusha, from the perspective of students, producers, and fans watching the master create one of his most powerful films. Also included is an informative 41-minute Japanese "making of" documentary, which is the Kagemusha portion of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It's Wonderful to Create. If you are new to Kurosawa's late period, this Criterion set is an excellent introduction to the last, dreamlike phase of his career. Longtime fans will find loads of new material to explore as well. --Rob Bracco

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Criterion 2-disc DVD edition April 9, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
KAGEMUSHA is the great 1980 drama involving a clan of 16th-Century Japanese warlords who want to deceive their enemies by having a common thief impersonate their murdered leader. This is a thought-provoking film about reality and illusion, as well as a visually inviting work filled with many striking scenes and compositions that Kurosawa films are known for. A memorable 6-minute opening shot of three identical-looking men, an elaborate dream sequence, and a harrowing montage of the aftermath of the final battle are among some of Kurosawa's finest moments in his long film career. Lead actor Tatsuya Nakadai was only in his 40s when he made KAGEMUSHA, playing a much older man and effectively conveying the guile and conflicted feelings of the imposter. Nakadai would also play the lead role in Kurosawa's next film, RAN, 5 years later, again unrecognizably playing a much older man.

Criterion has released the definitive video edition for KAGEMUSHA: a Region-1, 2-disc DVD of the uncut, 180-minute version of film. The anamorphic widescreen video quality is generally very good, except for some occasional graininess. The original Japanese audio is in Dolby Digital 4.0 surround (3 front, and 1 mono rear channels), although surround effects are infrequently used.

The best supplement on the disc is Stephen Prince's full-length audio commentary, which, due to the film's length, is able to elaborate on many topics in great details. Much of Prince's narration (I would say half of it) is more on the historical background of the film's period than the filmmaking and art of the film. He compares certain plot details against historical facts to show how Kurosawa uses his artistic license to convey his own ideas.
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121 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic film with phenominal surreal images. April 14, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
Wow, what a movie experience! "Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior)" is my favorite film from direct Akira Kurosawa, which is saying one heck of a lot when one considers "Rashomon", "Seven Samurai", and "Ran". I sat riveted to the television screen during the entire presentation. It is a story of a petty thief who, because he looks very much like the great Warlord Shingen, is given the chance to redeem himself and play the great Warlord's double. The heart of the film is the inner change and new found strength that progresses through the thief as he learns to become the Warlord. Awesome in its imagery, "Kagemusha" will mesmerize you and move you. Between 1 and 10, this powerful Kurosawa classic gets a 10. With his passing, along with Stanley Kubrick, the world has lost two great treasures.
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77 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Art's Great Movies! April 14, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
William Goldman, and American screenwriter, admonished aspiring screenwriters to begin scenes as close to end as possible. This is the sort of pacing that audiences--American audiences, at least--are accustomed to. Akira Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" is quite a different sort of movie than would ever be produced by the American or even the European mainstream movie industry.. Its scenes are long and talky, with periods of silence, and still cameras. The scenery, make-up, and mannerisms of the actors are exaggerated and often melodramatic, like you would find in formal Japanese cinema. Anyone seeing this movie expecting a medieval action flick along the lines of, say, "Exalibur," is very likely to be disappointed.
Which would be a shame. This is a magnificent movie. The photography and set design alone are breathtaking. This is more a historical piece than a character study--the characters remain, for the most part, two-dimensional. The focus remains tightly on the strategies and deceptions involved in keeping together the Shingen Takeda clan when their leader has died.
Scenes are often long and patiently filmed. In one quietly dramatic scene, we see two lines of cavalry come galloping over an incline from a great distance. The thunder of the racing horses builds, and the lines converge before us. In this single shot, not much else happens, but the composition and sound create a powerful effect. This movie is filled with subtle, magnificent moments like this.
The battle scenes--well, no one can beat Kurosawa here. The final scene depicts devestation and defeat with surprisingly little gore, yet is no less powerful (and, arguably, more) than, say, the graphically violent scenes in "Saving Private Ryan."
This is a must-see for any movie buff.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An opinion from Japanese Criterion fan. December 5, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It is about time to get this film's definitive version.

I am Amazon user in Japan and already own the original LD release and huge, expensive DVD boxes(cost me about $1,0000.....), and I can assure you that this Criterion version will be "THE BEST" one.

While Japanese version was created from same new Hi-Definition transfer, all features, three-hour movie and 45minits documentary, are bundled in dual-layered disc, which is too much to take in one, and the sound bit rate is 338kbps instead of 448kbps.

I expect, likewise "Red Beard","Hidden fortress" and "Ikiru", one disc will be devoted to the feature presentation and the extra to the other disc on Criterion version so that the quality can be maximized, and can be better than original Japanese release.

Still, among the Japanese original box set, I can say that the quality of "Sansiro Sugata" and two-disc set of "Seven Samurai" are great. I can't wait to see what the folks at Criterion will do to the rest of Kurosawa film releases.

For the first time, in documantary, Mr.Nakadai talks about taking over the title role from great Shintaro Katsu(Zatoich)who was originaly cast for Shingen and Kagemusha. Simply amazing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good film!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Kurosawa's greatest films, and also among his last
One of Kurosawa's greatest films, and also among his last. A thief about to be executed is discovered to be a double for the reigning lord, and is pressed into service. Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. J Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars great Kurosawa.
Kagamusha in Blu-ray by Criterion, great Kurosawa.
Published 2 months ago by Donald Sharp
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A Classic Japanese movie.
Published 3 months ago by Mjsanta
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Yvan Rodriguez
3.0 out of 5 stars A must own for Kurosawa Fans
This a classic film a must have for all collectors of Chanbara ( Japanese sword Fighting) films. I have both the blue ray version and standard letter box edition. Read more
Published 4 months ago by 3 Memphis Tigers Dad
4.0 out of 5 stars Kagemusha
Classic movie, entertaining. A clan trying to cover up the death of their lord uses a double who is a commoner so their enemies won't take advantage of the situation.
Published 7 months ago by 2hawk feathers
1.0 out of 5 stars I am yet to receive this item
When I receive this item I am sure I will appreciate it. As I trust Criterion and I have read good things about the film.
Published 8 months ago by Wild Kid Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
Criterion Collection DVDs are always excellent quality. Oh. The movie is wonderful. Typical Kurosawa - what is real and what is not.
Published 8 months ago by Robin Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Kurosawa film
All of Kurosawa's films are beautiful and all feature fantastic actors, but to me this was the most interesting. Read more
Published 10 months ago by W. Eckert
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Topic From this Discussion
Kagemusha Criterion BD region coding
Based on their other BD releases it will most likely be locked to region A.
May 28, 2009 by Amazon Customer |  See all 3 posts
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