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Samurai III - Duel at Ganryu Island VHS
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The most exciting and tension filled of Inagaki's trilogy, Duel at Ganryu Island provides samurai fans with some of the most scintillating swordplay and battle sequences ever filmed. It is the final showdown for Musashi Miyamoto and his arch-rival Kojiro Sasaki. Favorably compared to both Cool Hand Luke and Shane when it was first released, Samurai III brings this great epic to a close with its famous sunset scene--a stunning visual climax both in terms of action and photography.
Toshirô Mifune is confidence supreme and humility incarnate as the mature samurai master Musashi Miyamoto in the final film of Inagaki's sprawling trilogy. Now a legendary swordsman whose latest quest is to save an isolated village from rampaging brigands (shades of Seven Samurai), he remains haunted by the memory of Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa). Meanwhile the ruthless and increasingly jealous Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) plots his battle royal with Musashi to prove who is the finest fencer in Japan. Inagaki weaves the web of subplots into a series of grand confrontations, among them the most exciting battles of the trilogy: Musashi's skirmish with the army of cutthroats while the village erupts in a fiery inferno around him, and the sunset duel between Musashi and Kojiro on an isolated beach, the two warriors taking on mythic dimensions silhouetted against the sun setting over the surf. Inagaki's delicate use of color throughout the series becomes most pronounced in this final sequence, where the glow of orange and red adds dramatic flourish to the twilight battle. Inagaki's reserved, restrained style and Mifune's melancholy performance--his granite face and stocky stance the very essence of somber wisdom and sad assurance--bring a gravity and seriousness to the drama that ultimately illuminates the personal cost of Musashi's supreme skill as his story ends on an elegiac but hopeful note. --Sean Axmaker
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Mushasi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune)has learned much in his travels on the road to becoming a samurai. He no longer relies on only his strength in defeating his enemies; he now uses his humility and compassion as well. In contrast, Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) looks only for fame in his quest to become the greatest fencer in Japan. To achieve his goal he feels that he must defeat Mushasi at all costs. To that end he poses a challenge for a duel. Mishasi postpones the fight for a year so that he can continue his studies and take up a simple life of farming.
The village he chooses to live in is attacked by brigands and Mushasi must fight to save his new found community. The middle section of the film is similar to Kurasawa's Seven Samurai in this respect. We have the noble samurai fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. Finally Sasaki's challenge must be met an a duel is scheduled for the remote Ganryu Island.
The film , presented by Criterion, shows a great deal of wear. This is not the pristine restoration that the company has become famous for. Despite its flaws the film, like the other two films in the series is quite watchable. There are no extras presented but the theatrical trailer. All in all this is a great conclusion to a great series of films that deserve a place in the collection of any serious collector. Let's hope that Criterion reissues these films in editions that do them justice in the future.
Although this movie is not as "action-packed" it goes far deeper into the psyche of the Samurai Way. This movie is so compelling because of the complex character development, I really felt involved.
I recomend seeing all three of these movies in order at least once for continuity, but all of them stand alone well including this one!
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