Kagemusha: The Criterion Collection

Deal Score0
Deal Score0


In his late color masterpiece: Kagemusha (The Shadow Warrior); director Akira Kurosawa returned to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his celebrated career-the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a soaring historical epic that is also a somber meditation on the nature of power.Amazon.com essential video
The 1970s were difficult years for the great Japanese dir… More >>

Kagemusha: The Criterion Collection

This site uses affiliate links and if you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a commission payment.

  1. I agree with David Thomson when he says few audiences in the West would be content to view an American epic composed solely of battles and their contexts. Kurosawa was a keen businessman and his reputation in the West was entrenched with “Kagemusha” and “Ran”, he knew what (American) audiences think of as heroic and mystical about “historical” Japan: Kurosawa’s art takes a great deal on its impetus from what Americans (or Westerners) imagine about Japan. He was not popular in Japan (where they thought his stuff was particularly hokey and outmoded, hence the suicide attempt). I am not saying that the work is rubbish – there is no “ugly” shot in either “Ran” or “Kag” – merely that there are more “authentically Japanese” films out there to choose from.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  2. Having viewed a number of Kurosawa films, I am struck by how often they are highly touted by foreigners, but really, they are nothing but a lot of overblown nonsense (even the Japanese public thought his movies were terrible, and they thought ‘Godzilla’ was a good flick!). Ridiculous overacting, unbelievable plotlines, lousy editing, all are Kurosawas’ trademarks. I will grant the filming is to a very high standard, but who cares, if the story is a complete turkey? The problem is that Kurosawa never knew how to direct actors, only scenes. The fact that a number of excellent actors worked with Kurosawa and produced splendid performances (e.g. Takashi Shimura in ‘Seven Samurai’) had nothing to do with Kurosawa, but were more a happy accident. ‘Seven Samurai’ this ain’t!!
    Rating: 3 / 5

  3. I love Akira Kurosawa but to be honest, I wasn’t impressed at all with this movie.

    The plot is interesting & builds in excitement until it reaches about 2 hours into the movie & then it becomes exhausting and tedious to watch until the ending battle scene which I thought was disappointing & anticlimactic.

    The ending battle scene may have been historically accurate but instead Kurosawa should have awarded his viewers with some nice hand to hand combat between Samurai. It’s like all those extras weren’t put to good use.

    Pretty much all of the battle scenes in the movie consisted of arquebuses mowing down Samurai.

    This may have been historically accurate for the time period but it doesn’t make for good entertainment.

    I would much rather see the Samurai hacking off limbs with Naginatas or shooting arrows at each other.

    The hundreds of extras were not used effectively in my opinion!

    The plot was fictional, so Kurosawa should have thrown in some fictional battle scenes as well.

    Unfortunately, the lack of battle scenes also hurts the movie.

    If I remember correctly, there were about 3. Two very short ones not worth mentioning & then the ending battle scene.

    Adding at least 2 more battle scenes of good quality would have made the film more watchable.

    Action has a magical quality of enticing the viewer back into the movie. (especially after long periods without any action)

    This wasn’t used effectively in Kagemusha.

    The plot is good but it just isn’t enough to carry the viewer through the entire movie alone. It needed more action to go with it!

    On a positive note, the Cinematography is excellent & probably the best I’ve seen in any Kurosawa movie. Possibly the best in any movie period. That actually disappoints me in a way because the great cinematography could have been much more enjoyable if the battle scenes were of the same quality.

    But if the lack of Battle scenes doesn’t bother you, then you’ll probably love this movie. It’s rich in color & history.

    The acting was also very well done & so was the costume design.

    My opinion is that it’s worth a rental to see for the first time & if you like it, then buy it. The DVD version has cool special features.

    I would also recommend “RAN” or “Chushingura”.

    Chushingura also suffers from the “not enough battle scenes syndrome” as Kagemusha but it’s plot is still great & so is the final scene where the 47 ronin raid the castle.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. First, this is the great film of the historical genre from Japan. Second, it may be the model for recent history in Iraq.

    …As a drama of manners, “Kagemusha” serves as a thorough introduction to the presentation layer of the Samurai in Tokogawa Japan. At the ending scenes, this shadow-warrior is able to take to heart the projection of honor and spirit within Shinto.

    We owe a prayer of thanks to Lucas and Coppola. Without them, neither “Ran” nor “Kagemusha.” Two wonderful, great men.

    Tatsuya Nakadai (acting Lord Shingen and the double) immerses us in a world where male Samurai had a 50% chance of dying in battle. Their language of grunts and body gestures is still the subject of deep study in Japan. The performances here takes us to a key hole, where we can see this world acted out.

    “Ran” — in comparison — is embroiled in the conflicts between Buddhist sensibility, personified with Sue’ and the other non-warrior characters, and the code of Bushido and its core Shinto beliefs. The revenge-spirit within the wife is Shinto at its purest. She destroys the whole clan of her family’s murderers. Willingly, she gives her most-honorable head to the blade.

    Here in “Kagemusha” the sacrifice of one’s life is given freely by dozens of Samurai. Whole squads of soldiers throw their bodies before arrows aimed at the false Lord. As it happened then. The achievement of this film is that we almost understand what is happening.

    And what sacrifices will we be willing to make, if SARS tests us next year, in the winter of 2004 ??? How important are courage and loyalty to us ? How will we die ?
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. This movie is fine, I like it! Hope you enjoy it as well
    Rating: 5 / 5

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Reset Password