Samurai Rebellion - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Samurai Rebellion Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 22, 2007
Kickass samurai drama - maybe just a notch below Harakiri.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2013
Oh man, don't you dare cross Toshiro Mifune. The veteran actor has amassed quite a body count during his cinematic reign in which he ruled for an astounding 170 feature-length films, and here he adds a few more notches to his blood-soaked belt.

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.
Keiko A. --Samurai--
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2011
Toshiro Mifune is at it again with this Sensational, deeply moving samurai flick thats worth WATCHING!!! AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!

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.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2007
the end was a little upsetting, but the rebel in me was excited for this one. overall a great flick, and even the disappointing end has a redeeming moment.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2007
excellent drama about a conflict between a shogun and his vassals. mifune is great as the convention bound samurai who takes a stand.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2007
[font=Century Gothic]In "Samurai Rebellion", it is 1725, a time of peace. The Daimyo has requested that Yogoro Sasahara(Go Kato), son of cavalry escort Isaburo Sasahara(Toshiro Mifune), marry Lady Ichi(Yoko Tsukasa), former consort to the Daimyo and mother of his child, who was dismissed for striking him. At first there is fierce resistance from everybody in the family, and Isaburo stands firm, but Yogoro relents. Amazingly, Yogoro and Ichi fall in love, having a daughter, Tomi. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[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]
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2011
While I have seen only one other of Masaki Kobayashi's films (At the time of this review), Hara-kiri, I have no doubt whatsoever in his mastery as a director. Both films are masterpieces telling of injustices during Japan's feudal era and the enormity of the class differences. Samurai Rebellion which stars the legendary Toshiro Mifune, displays both a touching and emotionally investing film that has perfect balance. For the first hour and a half we are introduced to our characters and the plight that will soon spell disaster. The last half hour is a brilliantly filmed samurai showdown where Mifune truly shines as a man of justice and morality. The cinematography of the various Japanese landscapes and wonderfully detailed traditional Japanese housing really add depth and a sense of being that is hard to replicate. What an amazing and beautiful film to see and be moved by. If you love Japanese films, culture or samurai this is an absolute necessity to watch!
Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 2008
You would think a film called Samurai Rebellion would be wall to wall action, but to my surprise it has a great love story and a touching story of a relationship between father and son. There is some action at the end and if they would trim about 10-15 minutes then it's a 4 star film. Mifune is great and the film is a definatly worth a look.
½ August 14, 2015
A proud local family is being harassed by the regional lord, demanding them to take his ex-wife. Some times later he wants her back, but they refuse. Stunning visuals and character close-ups. To the bone heart-gripping.
November 24, 2011
Great story, and extremely well told. Mifune is great as usual, and I just loved the build up to the finale.
½ October 23, 2013
The rebellion is on a personal level rather than being a revolution as one might expect. Fascinating look at how one rebels within a tightly structured society. It occurred to me while watching the film that, while each include both elements to a degree, Japanese films focus more on honor while American films focus more on justice in their displays of heroism and their satisfaction in the outcome. While an American hero might sacrifice honor in favor of justice, the Japanese hero seems more likely to satisfy honor without gaining justice.
August 14, 2012
Samurai Rebellion (1967)

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.
½ April 10, 2012
An aging samurai, Isaburo, rebels against the unreasonable orders of his lord. The outcome is inevitable, of course, but this is an interesting study of free will and having the courage to buck the ruling elite.
½ December 5, 2010
When Masakata Matsudaira, daimyo (Tatsuo Matsumura) of the Aisu clan, is offended by his concubine, Lady Ichi (Yoko Tsukasa) , he expels her from the castle, but, having given birth to his son, Masakata orders one of his vassals to marry Lady Ichi. Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) is outraged when his son, Yogoro Sasahara (Go Kato) is chosen by their lord to become Lady Ichi's new husband and it is only after much resistance on Isaburo's part that the two eventually become husband and wife.

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 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.
September 6, 2011
Aged samurai Isabura (Toshiro Mifune) has always been a peaceful man, blessed to live in peaceful times. He performs his duties, serves his lord to the best of his abilities, and does his best to avoid conflict. So when he is told that his son Yoguro must marry their lord?s disgraced former mistress, Ichi, he acquiesces. And to their surprise and delight, the young couple fall deeply in love. But when the lord demands his mistress?s return, it is too much even for Isabura, and he determines to take a stand, even great risk to his family and honor.
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.
½ July 17, 2011
"Since when have I become superintendent?"

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.
January 11, 2011
Again, the story does really resonate with someone who doesn't understand the Japanese culture but it's super well made and the 2nd half of the movie is exciting enough to make this film worth your time.
November 7, 2010
Very good piece of cinema. Another beauty, black and white samurai drama. It's not particularly heavy on action, save for the highly anticipated end.

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.
October 17, 2010
Wow! Awesome movie, though I'm not sure I really like the ending. (I prefer "Hollywood" endings where things end up happy for the characters I like.) Still it was a thoroughly engrossing film since Ichi entered the picture and her story became known and from there the tension just built and built and you didn't really know how it was going to end, you just knew that there'd be a lot of blood on the way there. Mifune gets to play yet another character-type--the brow-beaten husband and father who never got to live his own life, so he feels almost awakened by his son's predicament--and he gets to have another duel with the man who played the villain from "Sanjuro", played by Tatsuya Nakadai. Great all around and I'll have to check out more from (director) Masaki Kobayashi, since this was excellently paced, too. (Really reminded me of Kurosawa in the way he played with the camera and slowed down and sped up action to focus on the characters. More so than any other director I've seen yet.)
May 5, 2010
the opening scene by itself is fantastic. it opens by showing the sword of Toshiro Mifune's character, Isaburo, which is so thin and precise in its construction that when no longer focused upon it becomes invisible to the camera -- this, of course, being where we first see Mifune himself preparing to strike upon a hay-dummy, which gets cut clean in half. simply witnessing the culture of this film immediately intrigued me -- further proving that Japanese filmmakers of this era, particularly those like Kobayashi and, though he didn't direct this film, Kurosawa. Kobayashi masterfully portrays the story of Isaburo who tells his son to marry a controversially thought-of woman who recently attacked their warlord. after a few months or years (I'm not exactly sure how long) following their wedding, Ichi, Isaburo's son's wife, is demanded back by the new warlord because she is the father of the dying, or now dead, warlord's son. Isaburo's family, after long debate, refuses, and a catastrophic rebellion ensues.

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.
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