Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichij˘ji no Kett˘ (Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple) (Swords of Doom) Reviews

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Keiko A. --Samurai--
Super Reviewer
July 8, 2011
Holy shit this was Radical!!! Truly one of the best opening's ever for this genre!

Hiroshi Inagaki, director of I'm the Bodyguard, Woman of Shanghai, Samurai 1, 2 &3 bring's us one of the most outstanding of the Samurai ever and the 50s.

Awesome plot and acting and great insite to my culture!
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2007
a great middle step to one of the best trilogies ever. the romantic melodrama was a little more overdone in this film than the other two of the trilogy, and the romantic monologues dominate much of the dialogue, but overall this is still a fantastic film and a great entry to a wonderful story.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2008
the continuing adventures of crazy takezo, now an accomplished samurai. not quite as good as part 1 tho lovely to look at. all the women are after musashi but he prefers his sword :p
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2007
Beautiful colors, dull story
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2007
It starts kind of abruptly with Musashi Miyamoto dueling a guy with a chain and sickle. After he wins, a passing priest plants the idea in his head that he is too strong, that swordsmanship is about chivalry. Musashi spends most of the movie trying to challenge Seijuro, the head of a samurai school, which has fallen away from the samurai way and mostly consists of bandits. Multiple times he fights a group of this school's students who gang up on him instead of honoring his wishes to duel Seijuro one on one, always besting them. It's hard to see the fights as nearly all of them were shot in nearly complete darkness. He spends some time at a Geisha's house laying low, where the courtesan points out that his search for self-control has lead to a lack of affection. He also fights and kills Denshichiro, Seijuro's brother. Meanwhile, Otsu has still been waiting for Takezo/Musashi to return to her so they could begin a life together, but he now loves his sword more than her. Matahachi has become even more pitifully weak, sitting around singing sad songs and moping, but still trying to fool himself that he is a samurai. Oko has furthered an affair with a bandit from Seijuro's school, who we briefly met in the first part of the trilogy. These two schemers try to force Akemi, Oko's daughter, into a relationship with Seijuro. It has now become unclear who Akemi's father is, Matahachi, Takezo, or the bandit. Either way, Akemi has heard some stories of Takezo, probably from her mother or maybe folk tales, and now believes that she is in love with him. She begins to take after her mother quite a bit. Several characters don't appear anymore after this part of the story: Matahachi, Matahachi's parents, Oko, her bandit boyfriend, or the priest Takuan. The final main character to make an appearance in this part is Kojiro, who is a young samurai building quite a reputation with a new style of fighting. He works with Seijuro and is in favor of upsetting Musashi from his position as the greatest samurai, then when he sees Seijuro's students' lack of honor he becomes a sort of mediator, and finally, dragging Akemi along while watching from a distance, lets Musashi leave with the assurance that they will face each other later.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2011
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple is an even more fierce and intense look at Miyamoto and his progress to become a master samurai. This is the first film that has Kojiro Sasaki as a young and powerful samurai who both admires Miyamoto but longs to be the best. Amazing battles are peppered throughout the film with the final battle between Seijuro Yoshioka and Miyamoto finally materializing after 80 of Seijuro's men battle Miyamoto alone. We finally see, in his mercy, Miyamoto becoming a true samurai with compassion and control. When he finally gives in and tries to be with Otsu, she denies him for what seems like no reason and in this action Miyamoto swears off all women and continues his travels. The cinematography here and acting as well as the battle sequences make this is a must see samurai film and essential for viewing the Samurai Trilogy as a whole.
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2008
Mifune is the boss, as usual. And the outdoors nature settings are very moody and cinematic. But I got really tired of watching the female characters lie around crying all day. They're incredibly one-dimensional, weak characters.
½ August 9, 2012
unlike american sequels this japense sequel is not great as location shooting has been replaced by studio shooting.
February 10, 2008
Quite well done, though loses a bit for me, having read the novel by Eiji Yoshikawa, that this trilogy was based on. To have truly done the translation justice, it should have been more like six or seven movies. IMHO. Not bad by ANY MEANS, but as a fan of the novel, I could have asked for more detail, less of a rushed synopsis.
½ February 13, 2007
"You lack affection." - This plays out like one long special episode of a soap opera, but with lots of fighting; which works for me. I don't really care for the subplot with Matahachi, there's really no point; he doesn't even show up in the next film! Besides that, it's a decent flick. - "I have renounced the love of women."
½ October 27, 2014
Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

This is the second film in the Samurai Trilogy about legendary Japanese swordsman, Musashi Miyamoto (Toshiro Mifune). Toho Studios filmed this in color but a lot of the scenes are studio shot. There is enough photography of the beautiful nature outside though, and the beautiful culture of ancient Japan is showcased.

Although this is a samurai film, there really isn't as much sword play as you would expect. Instead, there is a lot of melodrama between all of the women in Musashi's life, trying to track him down.

There's innocent Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) who has been waiting for Musashi at a bridge outside of town. There is also the less innocent/fallen dove courtier Akemi (Mariko Okada) who has never forgotten Musashi but is being pimped out by her mother, Oko (Mitsuko Mito). Musashi's old buddy Honiden Matahachi (Rentaro Mikuni) plays the music at Oko's and has been busy drinking his regrets.

Musashi travels around the country, practicing his sword skills by challenging various Samurai and fencing schools. He's begun to get a name for himself. The old monk, who has mentored him has told him that he's too strong, and too angry in his swordsmanship; that he must soften that anger with compassion and work towards being more Genteel and noble.

Musashi has wanted to duel the head sensei of one fencing school and has managed to hurt and even kill some of the students in duels. The school has not been willing to let the sensei duel with him and have even tried ambushing him whenever they could including the finally at the Ichijoji Temple.

A skilled samurai, Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) has noticed Musashi's skill and would like to duel him to become the best swordsman in Japan. Naturally, this won't happen until the third film in the trilogy.

One thing that I would like to comment on is that the Criterion Collection has done a great job bringing these films back out into the public. The one complaint that I have is that there are not any extras to the DVDs. There are only the trailers for the films.
August 21, 2014
The middle film of the trilogy finds Musashi Miyamoto wandering feudal Japan and increasing his inestimable skill as a swordsman. The plot focuses on his attempts to duel the master of a martial arts school, while avoiding the students attempts to eliminate him as a threat. The film also sets up the final film by advancing the love triangle introduced in the first film and introduces Miyamoto's main rival in the final film. A marvellous action/adventure film that looks magnificent on Criterion's Blu-Ray.
½ May 29, 2014
The follow-up to 1954's excellent Musashi Miyamoto, Duel at Ichijoji Temple picks up the story several years later, as an exiled orphan-turned-swordsman gains notoriety via a bloody tour of fatal duels. His reputation precedes him in returning to his hometown, where old rivals of both a violent and intimate nature await. This is a film about personal growth - specifically that of the samurai himself, who struggles to learn the key concepts of what his new life actually entails and where the rift lies between honor and reverence. We're never quite sure if Musashi takes this lesson to heart, particularly since he's so keen to maintain an impenetrable outer facade in almost every situation. It's a tricky role for period veteran Toshiro Mifune, who struggles with the more nuanced, flatter aspects of the character. In the previous episode, with the fires of young-adulthood to toy with, he excelled. Here, faced with the malaise of mid-life and the accompanying questions of his own being, his performance is far less sublime. The plot, cramped with too many faces and several seemingly-pointless subplots, does him no favors in dancing around the issues and repeating itself on more than one occasion. This could have been an excellent one-act show, and the final half-hour could still stand alone as precisely that. It lacks the gumption of its predecessor, however, and too often cuts away just as the action is getting good.
½ January 2, 2014
Though some may see this as a weak entry in the trilogy, it's still above par.
December 23, 2013
The second installment opens up with a duel. Musashi arrives at a sight early at dawn and encounters a stubborn young child. The opening samurai duel sets the stage for artistic, well choreographed fights with a high level of suspense. Musashi is immediately put down by a wandering Zen monk who says that he is still too wild to be considered a true samurai; thus begins the balancing act and spiritual transformation of Musashi.

In this film we see the tragedy of Matahachi in his relationship fleshed out. In addition, the love triangle between Akemi, Otsu and Musashi continues. Musashi wants to make a name for himself and ends up seeking out the master of the Yoshioka clan for a duel. The students of the master continue to try to ambush and kill off Musashi. We meet a new character that will be more fully developed in the third movie: Kojiro Sasaki. Kojiro is a ronin as well seeking out to become the best samurai of the land. He is interested in Musashi's growth as a legend so that he can face him off later and gain an even greater reputation.

The film is shot at 1:33:1 aspect ratio which creates shots with greater depth within the composition. The position and use of the camera is done masterfully. One of the most memorable scenes is when Musashi leads his gang of attackers into the muddy rice fields. It creates great tension and memorable fights. Inagaki is also very skillful in setting up great scenes, like a duel with snow falling and then cutting to another simple scene that takes place after the fight. He teases the audience and leaves it wanting for more.

One of the most surprising aspects of the film is how forward the female characters are portrayed. They are not simple, obedient women, but have strong personalities and own their sexuality. Toshiro Mifune plays the character flawlessly and displays his commanding presence as a skilled swordsman that is later perfected within the great Kurosawa films.
August 5, 2013
Finally, we're watching a chanbara. Far better than the first movie.Still there a lot of dragging scenes. But it's nice to see the journey of Miyato Musashi, and man, ain't he the ladies man. LOL. Got three gals running after the legendary samurai.
April 13, 2013
As great as the first although like the first it is unreliable and not accurate to the fullest.
½ March 28, 2013
Beautifully conceived shots and scenery along with excellent story telling and character development make Samurai II a great film. Musashi exposes much of the cowardice involved in a group of samurai and it makes for some fantastic sword play and character advancement as many of his mentors tell him that he is too strong and forceful.
January 31, 2013
Part 2 of the trilogy is easily the most exciting, with a HUGE battle at the end, and the anticipation of the final duel for part 3. The soundtrack and main theme continue to shine, as do Mifune and his leading lady, Kaoru Yachigusa. It reminds me of Gone With The WInd, and yet, I haven't seen that movie haha. Great stuff, bring on number 3!
November 17, 2012
Fantastic continuation of a most splendid samurai trilogy ever filmed. It starts off with a bang, and it ends but that way. THe titular duel is a masterpiece in filmmaking (a most-wonerful choreography and scenery), the tranquility that absorbs the attention, and the intensity of sword-fighting sequences combine for a marvelous experience. Toshiro Mifune shines once again as Miyamoto, a lone samurai bound for love and seeking a rival, who'll prove to be a worthy contender. Miyamoto not only has to fight with an aspiring, young and proud swordsman, but he also has to overcome his emotionally-unstable state and choose between the two woman, who long for his heart. Miyamoto is a graceful fight and an avid thrill-seeker, and his aspirations are as high as his sword technique is extravagant. Samurai II is a fantastic epic tale about honor, loyalty, loneliness, and the way of the warrior.
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