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Three Outlaw Samurai (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1964)

Tetsuro Tamba , Isamu Nagato , Hideo Gosha  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tetsuro Tamba, Isamu Nagato, Mikijiro Hira
  • Directors: Hideo Gosha
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00687XNQM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,970 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Trailer

New English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Bilge Ebir


Editorial Reviews

This first film by the legendary Hideo Gosha (Sword of the Beast) is among the most canonized chambara (sword-fighting) films. An origin-story offshoot of a Japanese television series phenomenon of the same name, Three Outlaw Samurai is a classic in its own right. In it, a wandering, seen-it-all ronin (Tetsuro Tamba) becomes entangled in the dangerous business of two other samurai (Isamu Nagato and Mikijiro Hira), hired to execute a band of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of a corrupt magistrate. With remarkable storytelling economy and thrilling action scenes, this is an expertly mounted tale of revenge and loyalty.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
Shiba (Tetsuro Tanba) is a wandering samurai who's seen it all. He stumbles onto some peasants who have taken the magistrate's daughter hostage in hopes of ending the corruptive leadership that plagues their land. What begins as a spectator sport and a roof over his head for Shiba turns into him fully supporting the peasants and their cause. Two other samurai; Sakura (Isamu Nagato) another wanderer with a guilty conscience and Kikyo (Mikijiro Hira) a samurai who milks the magistrate for all he's worth eventually join up with Shiba. An epic duel to the death lies ahead for the three samurai as the magistrate will stop at nothing to get revenge.

Three Outlaw Samurai begins in simple yet extravagant fashion. We see Shiba take a few steps in the mud followed by an extremely loud music cue and the title card written in Japanese Kanji. Six seconds into this chanbara film and I already know I'm going to love it. The film buys its time though as the first half of the film is mostly very talkative and swords are drawn only briefly before lengthy discussions begin once again. The storytelling is a high point as loyalty and the overall cause for all of this mayhem are always both relevant to the events taking place on screen. The cinematography is also brilliant, especially since this is the debut of Hideo Gosha. The well-choreographed and intense swordplay sequences are always captured with the most precise camera placement.

Lighting and shadows also play a big part in how the film is presented visually. The one-shot sword fight in the two-story whore house is the best example of this. Right down to the drastic lighting on Kikyo's eyes before everything goes to hell, Three Outlaw Samurai is the type of film fans of samurai, foreign, and great cinema in general dream of.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That perfect balance February 7, 2012
Format:Blu-ray
In my collection of samurai movies this is number one. Once in a while a movie achieves that balance between action and story. This is it. It's not to high brow, not over action. All in beautiful black and white. I had hoped Criterion Collection would catch notice of this movie and they have. Can't go wrong with this one.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By D. Lee
Format:Blu-ray
Caught this movie on either IFC or the Sundance channels "Samurai Saturdays" where they would show subtitled Japanese samurai movies at 5am in the morning. As a fan of Samurai movies like Yojimbo and The Lone Wolf & Cub movies I was shocked I had never heard of the film before it aired on the channel. After seeing it I payed way too much for a Japan region version of the film online and enjoyed it ever since.

So glad this film is getting a Criterion release and will hopefully finally get its deserved recognition by samurai movie fans in the west.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and (deceptively?) simple March 20, 2013
Format:DVD
I bought Three Outlaw Samurai "cold" -- that is, without ever having seen it before, or even hearing anything about it. I was half-expecting to be disappointed, but I wasn't. This movie is just plain great.

The story concerns a group of peasants who kidnap the daughter of a corrupt local official, in the hopes of attracting his attention to the plight of the poor townsfolk. Several samurai tough guys happen to be in the area, and the plot hinges on whether these samurai will decide to help the peasants. While this scenario seems quite simple on the surface -- and I suppose it is -- director Hideo Gosha handles it expertly, generating lots of suspense and sympathy for the characters.

Surprisingly, some commentators consider this film an inferior "rip-off" of Kurosawa fare like Seven Samurai. I have a couple of responses to that. First, I don't think Kurosawa really invented the samurai genre, or even the type of world-weary samurai character so often played by Toshiro Mifune (e.g., the samurai character of Tange Sazen predates Kurosawa's stuff). Also, because Three Outlaw Samurai is very short, violent, and "punchy," it has a different feel/tone from Seven Samurai and similar Kurosawa epics, so I don't think the two films really conflict or negate each other at all. I enjoy both styles quite a bit.

Meanwhile, Criterion's DVD of Three Outlaw Samurai has a very nice print that highlights the beauty of the film's black-and-white photography. (I'm kicking myself for not buying the Blu-Ray instead, but hey, I had no idea I'd like this so much!) There aren't any great special features to speak of, though the DVD comes with an essay that provides interesting details on Gosha's career and the TV show that inspired this film. So on the whole, this DVD gets my enthusiastic seal of approval.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
When it comes to Japanese cinema during the '50s and '60s, there were many samurai films produced but with "Sambiki no Samurai" (Three Outlaw Samurai), it was a national sensation on television.

Airing on Japan's Fuji TV from 1963 through 1969, the drama series achieved a high rating of 42%. In Japan, anything over 25% is fantastic and not only did the studio Shochiku have a hot series, the three actors Tetsuro Tanba, Isamu Nagato and Mikijiro Hira became the most popular actors because of the TV series.

And with the success of the first season, Shochiku decided to create a jidaigeki film based on the characters of the TV series and "Sambiki no Samurai" (Three Outlaw Samurai) and give Hideo Gosha the opportunity to direct his first film.

And in 1964, "Three Outlaw Samurai" was released in theaters and would become a classic samurai film in Japan which would later inspire a manga series and TV sequels that would air on TV Asahi last from 1987 through 1995 (featuring newer characters) and a final "goodbye" drama series which aired from Oct.-Dec. 1999 which would feature the return of original actor, Tetsuro Tanba.

And now, "Three Outlaw Samurai" makes its first Blu-ray and DVD appearance in North America courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

The film is the second Gosha film to be released by the Criterion Collection, the first release on DVD was Gosha's second film (and his most popular film in the west), "Sword of the Beast" (1965).

VIDEO:

"Three Outlaw Samurai" is presented in black and white (2:35:1 aspect ratio). This 1964 film looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray. Not only is there a good amount of grain, there is also a good amount of detail. May it be the dirty floors of the mill or its wooden surroundings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh
Not particularly great and certainly not worth the Criterion Collection treatment. The cover artwork is much better than the movie. I would advise Yojimbo or Sanjuro instead. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Harbo
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Samurai Film
I love samurai movies! I named my dog Yojimbo. This is a good movie with three very different samurai. I have watched it several times and no doubt will again. Read more
Published 19 days ago by The Gootch!
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it.
Took a chance to purchase it on a lightning deal. Some good sword fights in it. A little bit like seven samurai in the way they take a stand for the hungry peasants, but Kurosawa... Read more
Published 1 month ago by nobody
4.0 out of 5 stars good stuff and often fun
This is the sort of movie you could show someone who wants to know what Japanese sword movies are all about. If they still don't get it, well, you know.
Published 2 months ago by T. Coonen
4.0 out of 5 stars Three outlaw samurai
It starts out a little slow but gets better. There are some good sword fights in it. And it reminds me a little of seven samurai in how they take a stand for the hungry pesants who... Read more
Published 2 months ago by michael
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic
This is a wonderfully plotted film, with gritty characterizations, and flashes of humor. The peasants are by turns piteous and infuriating. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Obsidian
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Outlaw Samurai Review:
Three Outlaw Samurai Review:

Best samurai movie I have ever seen. Better than "Seven Samurai". Read more
Published 5 months ago by ECHO1
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film
Black and white film with traditional story line of samurai /Japanese film...vengance, loyalty, honor, and drama. Great cinematography, outstanding acting.
Published 8 months ago by Michiye J. Morishige
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Outlaw Samurai
Another one of my favorites, if you love Samurai movies enuf said, love the storyline and plot, though it is in B&W.
Published 10 months ago by Bill
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK film
Not great by any means, this film is a competent tale of loyalty and devotion.
An enjoyable way to kill a couple hours.
Published 10 months ago by Tom Schneider
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