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Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook Paperback – May 1, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Taking this films decade by decade, Galloway highlights the best that each period has to offer. He kicks things off right with "Roshomon" and "Seven Samurai" in the 1950's, moves through the Golden Age of the 60's with such films as "Yojimbo," "The Tale of Zatoichi," "Hara Kiri" and "Samurai Rebellion," into the 70's with "Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx" and the "Kill Bill" inspiration "Lady Snowblood: Blizzard from the Netherworld," the 80's and beyond with "Kagemusha," "Roningai" Kitano Takeshi's "Zatoichi" and the magnificent "Twilight Samurai." He plucks the absolute best from each era, and leaves you hungry to watch every magnificent offering.
Each review is packed with information on story, actors and historical setting. Ever a fan instead of a scholar, Galloway refuses to give away endings or crucial plot points, so that the films can still be fully enjoyed by eager viewers. The availability of each film is also rated, and Galloway specifically tries to review accessible films, rather than long out-of-print obscurities.Read more ›
The book is written more as an introduction to the genre, so it is more for the average person than for someone who has seen most of the movies in the book. I like the way it is simple, but not simplistic. Mr. Galloway gives some basic background history, actor/director bios, and can talk about the movie without giving away crucial parts or endings to spoil the story.
Part of the problem I have seen on the internet in discussing the genre is a tendency to violate all of the above. I've seen Japanese history seriously mangled, and people clueless about basic background issues a Japanese person might know going into a movie. So, what you may read on the net is a lot of opinion, but have nothing to do with what the director intended. Just because one sees a Japanese movie does not make one an expert in Japanese history, culture, or religious/ethical issues a movie may bring up. That factual basis is lacking, and this is where I think Galloway's book is a good foundation in understanding the basics of all of this.
The one minor area I think was weak in the book is the "availability" of movie issue in the book. This is really a "relative" issue of how well you know how to use a search engine these days. Almost all of these movies in the book I found in the past pretty easy to find. These days if you know how to use amazon, or google you can get your movies in a few clicks. Almost anything English subtitled you can find on a search engine.Read more ›
In fact, Galloway is explicit about the purpose of this reference book. It "provides historical background, cultural insights, production anecdotes, actor and director bios"  and the aforementioned plot synopses. Those looking for a more Leonard Maltin-like review guide should probably look elsewhere.
Unlike another reader, however, I was not disappointed by a lack of reviews - it is quite clear that Galloway picked his films carefully and that he's an enthusiastic booster for each film in the book.
As for misinformation, film budgets and the financial equations used to calculate them are always arguable. What is not arguable, however, is the depth of research Galloway undertook with regard to the information about directors, actors, scripts, and Japanese language and history. I would be amazed if Tatsuya Nakadai would allow his name to be attached to a book that misrepresented the genre or the creative people who produced these films (Nakadai is a well-known Japanese actor who appears in several of the films described in the book and provides a "thumbs up" review blurb on the book's back cover).
I think it is evident that the films chosen for inclusion are the result of Galloway's belief that these particular films are important for aesthetic as well as historic reasons and, well, because he enjoys them and wants to share his enthusiasm for these films with other viewers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've always been drawn to Samurai Films, or Chambara,(sword films) as they're referred to. This book is a great primer for those getting initiated in this rare cinema appreciation... Read morePublished on April 18, 2010 by Jon V.
Neither exhaustive nor terribly in-depth in it's coverage, "Stray Dog and Lone Wolves: the Samurai Film Handbook" is targeted primarily at those who have yet to do more than dip... Read morePublished on July 26, 2009 by Wes McClain
Very good, very fun and very much loved by this very big chambara fan!!! A big and sincere thanks to the author for creating this informative guide and loving tribute.Published on October 7, 2007 by J. Lundgren
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (3/07)
At the recommendation of a lab assistant that used to work for me, I started watching samurai movies. Read more
As a fairly new Chambara/Samurai film fan, I've found this book to be a great source to help know where to look. Read morePublished on April 19, 2007 by Scott M. Fedor
It's thin compared to the other, much better, Stone Bridge Press books about Japanese cinema, coming in at 235 pages with only 150 pages dedicated to samurai film reviews. Read morePublished on February 18, 2006 by Jason Spear
Patrick Galloway's Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook provides a critical guide to over 50 top samurai films, from well-known masterpieces to new hits and... Read morePublished on November 9, 2005 by Midwest Book Review