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4.6 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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(Nov 24, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

"Tampopo" is a celebration of the role of food in Japanese culture. Acclaimed director Juzo Imati's ("The Funeral," "A Taxing Woman") hit satire was dubbed the first "noodle western" or "ramen western" for its delightful parody of American Spaghetti Westerns and Japanese Samurai films. "Tampopo" follows a young widow (Nobuko Miyamoto) who runs a small noodle restaurant in Tokyo, and Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki), a cowboy hat-wearing truck driver, as they attempt to devise the perfect bowl of top ramen. Don't miss the young Ken Watanabe ("The Last Samurai," "Inception") appearing in an early role as Goro's sidekick, Gun.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Ken Watanabe, Kôji Yakusho, Rikiya Yasuoka
  • Directors: Juzo Itami
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: November 24, 1998
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305154880
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,084 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tampopo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAME on October 6, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
There are any number of very funny scenes in this lightly plotted and highly episodic romantic comedy from acclaimed Japanese director Juzo Itami. You may recall him as the guy who got in trouble with the Yakuza, the Japanese "mafia," because they didn't like the way he made fun of them in Minbo no onna (1992). You may also know that he committed suicide at the age of 64 in 1997 after being accused of adultery. He is the son of samurai film maker Mansaku Itami. I mention this since one of the things satirized here are samurai films.

But--and perhaps this is the secret of Itami's success both in Japan and elsewhere--the satire is done with a light, almost loving touch. Even though he also takes dead aim at spaghetti westerns and the Japanese love affair with food, especially their predilection for fast food noodle soup, at no time is there any rancor or ugliness in his treatment.

If you've seen any Itami film you will be familiar with his star, his widow, Nobuko Miyamoto, she of the very expressive face, who is perhaps best known for her role as the spirited tax collector in Itami's The Taxing Woman (1987) and The Taxing Woman Returns (1988). She has appeared in all of his films. Here she is Tampopo ("Dandelion"), a not entirely successful proprietor of a noodle restaurant. Along comes not Jones but Tsutmu Yamazaki as Goro, a kind of true grit, but big-hearted Japanese urban cowboy. He ambles up to the noodle bar and before long establishes himself as a kind of John Wayne hero intent on teaching Tampopo how the good stuff is made. Along the way Itami makes fun of stuffy bureaucrats, macho Japanese males, heroic death scenes, Japanese princesses attempting to acquire a European eating style, movie fight scenes, and God knows what else.
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Format: DVD
I've owned the VHS version of this movie for several years and recently purchased the DVD (October 2000). I immediately noticed the improved clarity of the picture and heard sounds that I hadn't heard before on the VHS video. I enjoyed it even more - the picture was crisp and the soundtrack clear. This letterbox edition allows the subtitles to be turned off and contains a list of all the productions that Itami, Yamazaki, and Miyamoto were involved. I held off buying it due to the bad ratings some gave the quality of this DVD, but the version I got was great! If you've spent time in Japan, the zany humor really comes through, such as the group of businessmen in the New Otani Hotel French restaurant all ordering the same thing until the least senior of the group is reached. Even if you haven't lived there, it's an original film with an original approach to cinematography. As one of my favorite films from Japan, I give it 5 stars both on the movie and the DVD.
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Format: DVD
I'm guessing that the director, Itami, had a great love for all the movie genres, including Westerns, gangster movies, comedies, you name it, because they are all loving reflected in this movie.
As others have noted, the plot is definitely patterned after Italian Spaghetti Westerns--a handsome but weathered character (Goro) comes into town and spots a widowed mother in distress (Tampopo). With the help of his eccentric friends (including a band of culinary hobos that sing in exquisite harmony a farewell song whenever their leader leaves them for a time), Goro helps Tampopo turn her fortunes around by becoming a noodle soup master! I could definitely see John Wayne playing the part of Goro every time he adjusted the brim of his cowboy hat or the bandana around his neck.
In addition to the main story line of the winsome noodle shop owner, several unconnected episodes are included. What ties them all together seems to be the theme of enjoying and appreciating and living for food, from the story of the noodle master imparting his wisdom on the perfect noodle soup to the disciple, to the old woman who sneakily wanders through an upscale grocery store just to TOUCH food, to the charismatic gangster whose dying words to his lover are about the wonders of an esoteric food delicacy, the intestines of freshly killed boars who have dined on yams that make a natural yam sausage.
Sounds odd, I know, but the director has a warm, affectionate viewpoint that lets us enjoy the eccentricities of the characters while still feeling good about them. There is not the faintest trace of meanness or cynicism in this movie. Laugh out loud scenes make this one of the funniest movies I've seen in years, and the honesty and poignancy of the wonderful characters will make this movie live in my memory for many years.
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Format: DVD
"Tampopo" is one of those rare films that Every piece of it is perfect, combining to form a more flavorful whole, like a well-made dish of ramen noodles. Itami was inspired for this film, and it is easily one of the best Japanese films ever made.
Japanese culture is filled with a love of food. Japanese travel brochures are filled, not with pretty sights and adventures, but with photos of local delicacies and dishes. Food questing is a popular hobby, with each person knowing a local favorite shop, or a master chef. Restaurants also tend to specialize, often serving only one dish such as ramen or udon noodles. "Tampopo" perfectly captured this national obsession, creating a story that is undeniable Japanese. Goro and Tampopo's search for the perfect broth, the most delicious way to cut meat and such is an honest and charming portrayal.
There is plenty going on in this film, with the sexual subplot of the gangster and his lover exchanging food and sex, or the young executive fluent in French cuisine. Each vignette forwards the tone. Along with this is the marriage of the samurai and the cowboy in the character of Goro, and the delicate strength of Tampopo herself.
You really can't go wrong with this film.
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