In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
A wandering samurai, Sanjuro, is drawn into local politics. The Superintendent of a clan is plotting to take over the clan by implicating the Chamberlain in corrupt activities (activities the Superintendent is actually responsible for). Part of the plan involves killing off the Chamberlain's staff and, in protecting them, Sanjuro sides with them. The supporters are massively outnumbered so it will require all of Sanjuro's cunning and swordcraft to ensure the Superintendent does not succeed in his evil plan.Written by
Akira Kurosawa is probably the best Director in the entire History of film-making. He has not been that prolific given the amount of time he has spent making films, but many of these have subsequently been remade - Seven Samurai became the magnificent seven. Yoijimbo (the prequel to this one) became A fistful of dollars - and more recently last man standing. The hidden Fortress became Star Wars. Sanjuro marked the return of Toshiro Mifune as the Sardonic Ronin from Yoijimbo. Yet again, the photography is excellent - the period costumes and buildings beautiful to look at even in black and white. From one of the first scenes, in the grounds outside the Shrine, Mifune shows a 500% improvement in the art of Kenjutso - he must have been practicing night and day! But it is the character of Sanjuro itself that makes the film so absorbing. He is on the surface, a dirty, disrespectful abrasive man - but his deeds portray him as a hero - someone who once was a shining example of a Samurai and despite being put through the ringer still holds to a deeply rooted code of honor. When this shows however, he is most anxious to cover it up again..... The film involves a power struggle within a small city in Japan between the old faction and the new power-hungry one. It deals with false perceptions and truth. Two of the tenets that are at the heart of Kurosawa's films. This is a Gem - rent it - if you can, Buy it!
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