Samurai Rebellion Reviews
While it can be quite depressing to think of all the poor Japanese folks that Mifune has dispatched over his career, director Masaka Kobayashi goes to painstaking lengths to make sure the viewer knows that at least in this film, he is doing it for good reason. Not only is he giving the finger to the almighty creator by doing away with his creation with his unparalleled swordsmanship, but he is also rebelling against the daimyo of the Aisu clan of which he is a vassal, a crime of which there can be no forgiveness.
Although not as impressive visually or thematically intriguing as his 1962 masterpiece Harakiri, Kobayashi once again proves that he is a capable storyteller. All the while examining social order and the price that it imposes on the body of people that it claims to protect.
Despite the fact that the material was in the hands of Shinobu Hashimoto, the writer responsible for Harakiri, it is unfortunately lacking the urgency and vitality that made the prior film so special. Yet, not all is lost as Kobayashi delicately sheds light not on the overt violence that this society cultivated, but rather the quiet disruption of the family for the sake of the lord.
Though Kobayashi's revisionist tale isn't as gripping as his previous work, it is still a very exciting piece of cinema and further proof that Kurosawa & Ozu aren't the only Japanese directors worthy of our respect.
The 18th century was a great time in these era of films still the 16th century always has me. I liked the acting and story and costumes and ECT.
[font=Century Gothic]"Samurai Rebellion" is a methodically paced drama about there being a right to not follow the orders of superiors that are cruel and capricious. And that there are some things truly worth fighting for. However, the movie is uneven at times, especially in how information is dispensed, telling more than it shows in key instances like the relationship between Yogoro and Ichi. Also, it repeats the analysis of Isaburo's fighting style which is key to the plot. [/font]
This is a great samurai film. One of the early ones created from Mifune Productions studio. This film is more of a family drama than an action movie.
Isaburo Sasahara (Mifune) is a samurai for a local provincial Daimyo. Isaburo is an excellent swordsman. There's only one other person of his skill, Tatewaki Asano (Tatsuya Nakadai) His talents are what made him a good catch for an arranged marriage, but in peaceful 1725 Japan, his talents are no longer needed.
He admits that he's a hen-pecked husband. And when the local Daimyo requests that his son, Yogoro (Go Kato) marry his discarded consort, Lady Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa), he's reluctant to allow this arrangement. Isaburo's Wife, Suga (Michiko Otsuka) has heard that Lady Ichi had assaulted the Daimyo and one of his new consorts, and is not behind this arrangement either.
However, a samurai can't exactly refuse his Daimyo and all of his superiors and the family eventually give in to the request. They surprisingly discover that the Lady Ichi is lovely and kind and that it was the Daimyo who is fickle. Ichi and Yogoro grow to love each other and Ichi gives him a daughter.
Then the Daimyo's Son dies and Lady Ichi's Son by the Daimyo would be the next in succession. The Daimyo wants Lady Ichi back; but Ichi loves her life with Yogoro. Isaburo and Yogoro put their foot down and rebel.
Soon, however, Ichi proves herself the ideal wife, bears her new family a daughter, and pleases both Yogoro and Isaburo greatly. It is after Yogoro and Ichi have found happiness that Masakata's primary heir dies, leaving Ichi's son to fill his role; however, Masakata will not allow the mother of his heir to remain married to a vassal and orders her return to the castle. Yogoro, Ichi, and Isaburo refuse, despite the rest of their family's pleas, but Ichi's brother-in-law Bunzo (Tatsuyoshi Ehara) tricks her into seeing the chamberlain, who kidnaps her with threats of forcing her loved ones to commit seppuku. It's left to Yoguro and Isaburo to decide whether to accept the injustice or to risk it all to get Ichi back.
There's no disputing Samurai Rebellion is a little short on action, saving it all for the very end of the film à la Hiroshi Inagaki's Chushingura (1962). This is somewhat unfortunate, but the nature of the film demands it; yet, even as things came to a boil in the film's final act, I felt a bit disappointed that the "rebellion" referred to in the title wasn't more than a single man cutting down as many of his former lord's men as he can before taking one bullet too many.
That said, Samurai Rebellion, is a competent film with a plot that was both interesting and easy to follow. There were times when I shared Isaburo's outrage and times when I could feel my skin crawl at the sight of Isaburo's glacial wife and odious younger son Bunzo. I have to say I was a bit dissatisfied with Tatsuya Nakadai's minor role in this film. An actor of his caliber deserved more screen time. We do get to see a bit more of him toward the very end of the film in a duel I saw coming since the opening scene, when it's revealed that Isaburo and Tatewaki Asano are the two most skilled swordsman in the clan. Overall, the film was well-cast and the acting was excellent. The swordfight scene in Isaburo's house looked a bit fake at times. One actor clearly does a backflip when it's meant to appear that he has been tossed by Isaburo. Isaburo then appears to hit the man with the hilt of his sword, but it's patent that no contact is made, nor is there even a sound effect to fool us into thinking contact was made.
Lastly, I liked Toru Takemitsu's traditional Japanese score for Samurai Rebellion. It lent the film an air of authenticity occasionally lacking in the heavily Westernized scores of Kurosawa films. I liked this film, but I don't foresee myself watching it again.
I admit it starts rather slow, with a great deal of time taken setting up the plot and establishing the characters. At about the forty minute mark, things begin to pick up rapidly as the crisis comes and the lines are drawn. The middle act is a complex web of intrigue and test of wills as each side searches for an advantage and tries to outsmart the other. And when the action comes, it?s as breathtaking and tragic as anything in the annals of Japanese cinema. The courtyard battle is reminiscent of the best fights scenes in Yojimbo, and is only second best to the magnificent conclusion.
Masaki Kobayashi has directed Samurai Rebellion with subtlety, grace, and emotion. He builds the tension slowly, then more quickly, and provides not one, but two climaxes. He keeps the audience guessing with unexpected twists, and it?s clear that he got the most out of everyone involved. The cinematography is excellent too. The stark black and white photography fits well with the movie?s feel.
Mifune is of course Japan?s most famous and possibly greatest actor and this is among his best performances. He brings wisdom, compassion, and determination to his role, displayed unrivaled swordsmanship, and has a death scene that would upstage even Boris Karloff. He is almost equaled by ---, who plays Ichi. She pours herself into her character as a woman forced to bear sons for a man she does not love, then given a chance at happiness, only to see it torn away. Her plight will get the waterworks going for many in the audience.
I won?t lie, there is no happy ending here, but the film is made more powerful for it. Kobayashi has created a masterpiece on par with all but the very best of Kurosawa or Ozo. This is a must see for any fan of Samurai films, or Japanese movies in general. And although Samurai Rebellion?s style, and the social structures it deals with are uniquely Japanese, its story of a peaceful man forced to great lengths in the pursuit of justice will resonate with audiences of any nationality.
Synopsis: When a mistress displeases the lord, he demands that Isaburo's son marry the woman. Isaburo takes the girl in, and to everyone's surprise, she falls in love with her intended husband. But when the temperamental lord reverses his orders and demands his mistress's return, Isaburo bravely takes a stand.
You'd be mistaken if you believe this film to be a mindless swordplay extravaganza, as it falls squarely within the Jidaigeki genre, and not the chanbara genre which exists almost solely for their swordplay, here, a clever story is the focal point.
And a good story it is. There is a surprising number of twists within the story arch, resulting in a script that feels clever and tight. However, the story is told in a far too traditionally japanese manner, meaning the directorial style is rigidly formal. Such a formal directorial style isn't a problem when it's not a detriment to the film, but here it is. A few key scenes take much too long to unfold, mostly a result of repetition or melodramatics. Such scenes could have been easily fixed with a more cut happy editing phase, or perhaps actors being more economical with their screen time. There are plenty of forward thinking ideas here (particularly the flashback scene, edited in a way iv never seen before), but in general, the filmmaking ignores it's own advise and sticks too closely to conventionality.
However, though it's conventional, it's most certainly quality work. The film is quite striking visually, thanks largely to the japanese art direction. And like i said earlier, the story is a good one worthy of being told. Toshiro Mifune and the rest of the cast also turn in solid acting performances for a well-rounded samurai flick.
Though it's rigidly formal resulting in a number of uneconomically filmed scenes, Samurai Rebellion's strong feudal aesthetics and clever script, make for a pleasing viewing experience.
Kobayashi loves to refute the authority of old world Japans ruling classes. He stresses in here, and Harakiri, that not all answers handed out by these "authorities" are correct, and we are human beings, flesh, bone and emotions, for better or for worse. The stringent rules of bushido, and the class system don't allow for true happiness and life to flourish.
All in all, it's a pretty great film, albeit a bit on the long side, but it's never boring because you know what will ultimately come in last third of the film. Mihune is great here, playing his strong, bold and honorable samurai, similar to yojimbo yet not the same.
Yoko Tsukasa does a great job here as well, you might remember her as the pretty woman who needs to be rescued by Mihune in Yojimbo.
this film is possibly the most realistic samurai film I've ever seen, it has the most realistic emotions and the samurai aren't constantly hiding their feelings through threatening gazes, but actually have personalities and traits that any other real person would have. the camera angles and cinematography are incredible, the directing is masterful, and the performances are outstanding.