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Dora-Heita

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In 1969, four of Japan’s greatest directors, Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita and Masaki Kobayashi, formed the "Yonki-no-kai" (Four Musketeers) production company, only to see it close down after its first film was a commercial failure. Now Kon Ichikawa, the last surviving Musketeer, has brought their long-lost samurai classic to the screen as a tribute to his fallen comrades!

Koheita (Koji Yakusho) is a samurai with such a reputation for debauchery that his nickname is "Dora-Heita" (Alley Cat), so his appointment as magistrate of the most corrupt township in all of Japan raises a few eyebrows on both sides of the law... But little does everyone know that it's all a carefully constructed front to outwit the criminals and outfight the righteous samurai who think he's too disgraceful to live!

DVD Features:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen
Subtitled in English

Bonus Material Includes:
Original Theatrical Trailers
Image Gallery
Program Notes


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Kôji Yakusho, Yûko Asano, Tsurutarô Kataoka, Ryûdô Uzaki, Hideji Ôtaki
  • Directors: Kon Ichikawa
  • Writers: Kon Ichikawa, Akira Kurosawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Masaki Kobayashi, Shûgorô Yamamoto
  • Producers: Kazuo Tsuruma, Masaya Nakamura
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Animeigo
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MQ550W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,684 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dora-Heita" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

5 star
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4 star
33%
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Top Customer Reviews

By Ernest Jagger on November 20, 2007
Format: DVD
"Dora-Heita" is a film that has a little history behind it. First, it was originally the idea of four cinematic legends: Kon Ichikawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Keisuke Kinoshita, and Akira Kurosawa. That was in 1969. Flash forward 3 decades later and you have the film finally coming into being with the last surviving member of this famed quartet, Kon Ichikawa, bringing this film to fruition. I have heard rumors that the late Toshiro Mifune was initially going to play the role of Dora-Heita, however, this did not happen. However, the viewer is given a wonderfully talented actor in the title role named Koji Yakusho. The man has been one of my favorite actors for some time now. With films such as the delightful comedies "Shall We Dance" "Warm Water Under A Red Bridge" and the superb thriller "Cure" among some of his film credits. And he fits right into the role of the not so debauched new Lord sent to clean up a rowdy town. Plus, his portrayal in this film is done exceptionally well with much humor.

Director Kon Ichikawa did this film out of respect to his now deceased fellow comrades, and we are fortunate enough to have had him behind the lens. The films narrative centers on a regional district in Japan called Horisoto. This is a lawless town, and the Lord of this regional district has named a new Magistrate to see to it that the town is cleaned up. This falls on the shoulders of a samurai named Koheita Mochizuki (Koji Yakusho). Three previous magistrates of the town have disappeared, and it appears nothing can tame this district. That is until Mochizuki comes to town. Mochizuki is given the nickname of Dora-Heita, or 'alley cat' [which means 'playboy'] by the local officials and townsfolk, who believe that he is a debauched character. Yet, this is what Mochizuki wants everyone to think.
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Format: DVD
Dora-Heita was written in 1969 by Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, and Masaki Kobayashi as the first collaborative project for their newly formed production company. It was intended to be filmed around 1970, but the box office failure of Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den that year put an end to their production company after only one film. The screenplay was filed away - with Kon Ichikawa apparently never giving up on the idea of actually filming it.

It wasn't until after the deaths of all three of his co-writers that Ichikawa finally found a way to get the production financed, and it's a good thing that he did because Dora-Heita is one fun Samurai movie! Sure, it may not be up to the level of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, or Samurai Rebellion, but it is still an above average Samurai movie with a good script (not as good as what these four legends did previously, but still a good script), and some nice twists and turns.

The performances in the movie are all good, and Koji Yakusho gives a fine performance as "Dora Heita." Could Toshiro Mifune have done a better job with the role back in 1970? Probably, but the movie wasn't made then, and Yakusho did a good job of making the character come to life.

The DVD from AnimEigo is excellent. The anamorphic widescreen picture is crisp, clean, and sharp. The subtitles, as with most AnimEigo releases, are second to none. Good translations, different colors for different characters during conversations, and not only are the signs and books translated, but terms unique to Japan are noted at the top of the screen.
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A star studded cast, amazing writers and directors. Good story. You will laugh, be intrigued, and root for the hero. Look at the cast and writers,,, if you like them then this is top quality stuff by those people. You can really feel each of their style come through without clashing. An excellent purchase. Very glad I bought this. A fun movie. Even had a relative that hates subtitles get super into this movie. Reaches a wide audience as it covers so many styles and genres. Heartwarming, action filled, thrilling, and a bit of detective and cop on the beat. Some great moments dealing with the differences of social class at the times and the strange moments where honor meet humanity.
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Koji Yajusho is great in this light, comedic, samurai sleuth flic. Koji reminds one of Kevin Spacey and he's always interesting (some of which is due to the nuanced script which dances about fancifully.) While I tend to prefer the gory chanbara films over this tone, this production is very smart and always entertaining. Period sets, costumes as well as the casting are really detailed and deft. Even the fighting is pretty good. The romantic interest between Koji and his slighted Geisha is also strong. While I thought she (the Geisha from Edo) was written out of character at one point (when she was threatened in the ghetto and Koji came to her aid,) the love interest characters were well matched and provided a light slapstick tone. This strikes me as an 'old man's' film and while I've never been a great Kon Ichikawa fan (the director of this film) I think his work here was spot-on. Highly recommended for late-afternoon viewing - lemonaide in hand.
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