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Samurai Challenge; Official; December 2016
Topic Started: Nov 28 2016, 10:44:36 AM (885 Views)
themagician
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Samurai Challenge

Official - December 2016

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Rules:

- A feature film (anything over 45 minutes) counts as one entry
- A total of 60 minutes of short films count as one entry
- For mini-series/TV series (40 minute episodes or longer) each episode counts as an entry
- For mini-series with shorter episodes (25 minutes or so), the 60 minute rule applies
- Rewatches are allowed

Lists:

Official: Patrick Galloway's guide to samurai films

- Stray Dogs & Lone Wolves: The Samurai Film Handbook
- Warring Clans, Flashing Blades: A Samurai Film Companion
- The Samurai Film by Alain Silver
- The Samurai Film Encyclopedia
- "Samurai Films" by Roland Thorne

Personal:

- Monty's Top Samurai Movies

Non-iCM:

- The Greatest Samurai Movies
- The 10 Best Samurai Films of All Time
- Fav Samurai Flicks

SCOREBOARD:

12 - burneyfan
3 - themagician
2 - cinephage
2 - 3eyes
2 - RBG
1 - ororama
Edited by themagician, Dec 24 2016, 10:14:54 AM.
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3eyes
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what about the official list?

https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/patrick+galloways+guide+to+samurai+films/

I will try to watch at least one.
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weirdboy
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I will almost certainly watch one or two. In fact I have a whole Bluray collection of Lone Wolf & Cub that I need to watch, but not sure if I will do that all in December.
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burneyfan
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I'm in -- I've enjoyed the Galloway list quite a bit so far, and I'm looking forward to more! I'll see at least one or two this month. :-)
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monty
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Feel free to consult the reviews in this thread for further inspiration
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WalterNeff
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I only need 18 for Bronze on Galloway, and I recently bought the Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion set at 50% off from Barnes and Noble, so count me in - although I doubt I will have anywhere near the pace of the Noir Challenge.
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burneyfan
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WalterNeff
Dec 1 2016, 08:20:29 PM
I only need 18 for Bronze on Galloway, and I recently bought the Lone Wolf and Cub Criterion set at 50% off from Barnes and Noble, so count me in - although I doubt I will have anywhere near the pace of the Noir Challenge.
I just got that Lone Wolf and Cub set during the same sale! I've only seen one LW&C film, so I've been looking forward to the rest.
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themagician
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1. Araki Mataemon: Kettô kagiya no tsuji AKA Vendetta of a Samurai (1952, Kazuo Mori) - 6/10

Written by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshirô Mifune and Takashi Shimura. Unfortunately I found it a snoozefest. Couldn't get into it at all. Interesting opening though, kind of documentary style, "here's the facts."
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themagician
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2. Momotarô-zamurai AKA Freelance Samurai AKA Demon Crusader (1957, Kenji Misumi) - 7/10

Good pacing, direction, cast. Has a few short fights. Quite clever but don't want to spoil it.

Seen
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RBG
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yay! i'm watching goyokin today so i guess i'm in too ^_^

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monty
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themagician
Dec 1 2016, 11:15:34 PM
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2. Momotarô-zamurai AKA Freelance Samurai AKA Demon Crusader (1957, Kenji Misumi) - 7/10

Good pacing, direction, cast. Has a few short fights. Quite clever but don't want to spoil it.

Seen
Interesting to see how opinions differ. Here's my take: a somewhat tepid affair; excessive melodrama that is piled on ever higher as the movie progresses; an unengaging lot of stock characters and rather unimpressive sword play. What this film has going for it is the charisma of Raizo.
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themagician
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3. Chűshingura: ôka no maki, kikka no maki AKA The Great Avengers (1959, Sadatsugu Matsuda) - 8/10

This 3-hour epic is the story of the 47 samurai. It was made to celebrate Toei's 10th anniversary and they took all their greatest actors and put them in this film. And it shows. The acting is top notch. The cinematography is just great. It's a slow buildup but is IMO worth it at the end.

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Since it only has 2 checks I'm calling it a hidden gem.

Seen
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cinephage
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01. Miyamoto Musashi: Ganryű-jima no kettô, by Tomu Uchida (1965) 7/10

Interesting : after 4 movies that stuck closely to the book, this one changes many aspects, including Musashi's psychology... The book end here, so I guess the 6th Musashi film by Uchida is entirely made up material. Looking forward to watching it.
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burneyfan
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01. Samurai a.k.a. Samurai Assassin -- Okamoto, 1965

Well-done, bleak story starring Toshiro Mifune as a ronin of mysterious parentage, eager to become an honorable samurai at virtually any cost. The elements build slowly throughout the film to a big, bloody, snowy climax.
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burneyfan
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02. Ronin gai a.k.a. Masterless Samurai Street -- Kuroki & Makino, 1990

Nineteenth-century ronin living with prostitutes in Edo; the world gets more complicated when someone starts killing the prostitutes. The film is world-weary and gritty in tone, but does a nice job with slow-burning character development.

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burneyfan
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03. Kiba Ôkaminosuke a.k.a. Samurai Wolf I -- Gosha, 1966

Action-packed tale of a samurai attempting to guard a money shipment on its way to a relay post. Includes some good fights (with slow-mo!) and clever plot twists. Isao Natsuyagi is good in the title role.

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sushantv10
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burneyfan
Dec 6 2016, 04:47:53 AM
03. Kiba Ôkaminosuke a.k.a. Samurai Wolf I -- Gosha, 1966

Action-packed tale of a samurai attempting to guard a money shipment on its way to a relay post. Includes some good fights (with slow-mo!) and clever plot twists. Isao Natsuyagi is good in the title role.

The Sequel is Good Too

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0199681/
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burneyfan
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sushantv10
Dec 6 2016, 07:44:20 AM
burneyfan
Dec 6 2016, 04:47:53 AM
03. Kiba Ôkaminosuke a.k.a. Samurai Wolf I -- Gosha, 1966

Action-packed tale of a samurai attempting to guard a money shipment on its way to a relay post. Includes some good fights (with slow-mo!) and clever plot twists. Isao Natsuyagi is good in the title role.

The Sequel is Good Too

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0199681/
Thanks! I just got my hands on it, and I plan to watch it during this challenge!
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3eyes
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1. Musashi Miyamoto (Japan 53)

I said I'd watch at least one, and here it is. I liked it very much. Whether I can get any more on NF I dunno, they all seem to be VLW. (Having some problems with PLEX lately.)

Seems I've seen too many films lately that take place mostly at night and... oh, for good old-fashioned tinting!
Edited by 3eyes, Dec 7 2016, 03:14:08 AM.
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burneyfan
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04. Kiba Ôkaminosuke: jigoku giri a.k.a. Samurai Wolf II: Hell-Cut -- Gosha, 1967

The sequel has more complicated subplots that are not as clearly delineated as the first film in the series, but this second film is still very action-packed and enjoyable. Easy, fun watch.

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monty
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You're on a winning streak, burney. Hope to see the interest kindled in you here for the samurai genre carried over into the ongoing challenge when this month is up...
Edited by monty, Dec 8 2016, 01:28:52 AM.
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monty
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Eagerly waiting for Neko Samurai to be reviewed here:

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burneyfan
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monty
Dec 8 2016, 01:25:14 AM
You're on a winning streak, burney. Hope to see the interest kindled in you here for the samurai genre carried over into the ongoing challenge when this month is up...
Getting my bronze on the Galloway list was one of the more entertaining, enjoyable medal experiences of my time on the site; I'm looking forward to cruising through a few more this month!
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burneyfan
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05. Tange Sazen: Hien iaigiri a.k.a. Tange Sazen: Secret of the Urn -- Gosha, 1966

Because of the subtitle, I was expecting a film to be a sort of remake of the wonderful 1935 Yamanaka film, Tange Sazen and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo. It did share the central premise of a bunch of people chasing after a precious pot, but that's about where the similarity stopped, in terms of the plot. This film was much more Gosha-like -- grimmer and bloodier. There were a few comic moments, but it's a very different film from the gracious, elegant work in the 1935 film. This 1966 update is not a bad film; it's just different, and more in line with other samurai fare of the '60s.

06. Rikyu -- Teshigahara, 1989

Beautifully-filmed historical tale of a master of the tea ceremony who gets caught up in sixteenth-century court intrigue. It has a slow pace, but I never found it dull. Really good stuff. Good Toru Takemitsu musical score, too.

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RBG
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monty
Dec 8 2016, 03:54:26 AM
Eagerly waiting for Neko Samurai to be reviewed here:

i've got a copy of samurai cat. if it's good i'll even watch the sequel
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Ebbywebby
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You guys should look up the new user "carnivalyouth" (only joined about three weeks ago). He's checking off Japanese movies like crazy. And he's already the #2 user for the official samurai-films list.
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cinephage
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02. Shinken shôbu, by Tomu Uchida (1971) 6/10

Well, Uchida should have left the Musashi franchise to rest. Here, by changing studios, he modifies some of what made the story that good. Furthermore, it looks like he's just repeating himself, with a less interesting adversary and an underlined morals...

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monty
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@cinephage: How do you feel about Uchida's take on the Musashi saga versus that of Inagaki?
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burneyfan
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07. Abare Goemon a.k.a. Rise Against the Sword -- Inagaki, 1966

I tend to think of Inagaki as a director who has all the technique to film battles and training and councils and other war-like elements of samurai life, but who doesn't succeed as well with the "human" side of the story -- what's going on emotionally, stories of family or friendship/loyalty -- the stuff that makes a viewer really invest in specific characters -- with the result that I think of Inagaki as a fairly "cold" director. This film is quite different, in that there's a lot of well-handled material that doesn't take place on the battlefield or in a council discussion. Toshiro Mifune plays Goemon, an ultra-macho peasant leader/hero who makes John Wayne and the tough-guy heroes of Stalinist films seem downright unmanly; he's almost a caricature, he's so stereotypically masculine. In this film set during the civil wars, the samurai are generally the bad guys; Goemon's clan is caught between two different samurai factions, while he deals with his two younger brothers returning from several years as hostages of samurai, each with ideas of his own. A pretty easy watch, and easier to get into the story than most of the other Inagakis I've seen.

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cinephage
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monty
Dec 14 2016, 12:03:50 PM
@cinephage: How do you feel about Uchida's take on the Musashi saga versus that of Inagaki?
It's hard for me to compare, as I discovered the saga with Inagaki, then read the book, then watched the Uchida version, which is much closer to the book (the 4 first movies, mostly).

I feel the Inagaki was more action-oriented, quick-paced and straight to the point, whereas the Uchida has a contemplative side, it's slower and not really interested in the action (some of the duels are almost shot as mere formalities. What matters are the consequences).
I'm not sure Uchida clearly illustrates what makes Musashi a great warrior, but we see him as a great man, painting, thinking... On the other side, the Inagaki Musashi is strong-tempered and moves elegantly.

So this shows there was room for two different approaches to the story. I think I preferred the Inagaki version, but not by far, and it could just come from the fact I watched it first.
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burneyfan
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08. Shinobi no mono a.k.a. The Ninjas a.k.a. Ninja, a Band of Assassins -- Yamamoto, 1962

Ninjas! They're out to assassinate a nasty samurai lord, particularly one young, promising ninja (coincidentally named Goemon, like in my last film). Lots of action and cat-like crawling up buildings as two ninja garrisons are pitted against each other to be the first to take down Lord Nobunaga.

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Edited by burneyfan, Dec 15 2016, 07:57:57 PM.
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RBG
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2. fuefukigawa - kinoshita (1960) kinoshita doing something artsy with color filters seems a bit weird but can't spoil this great film

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i didn't like inagaki's miyamoto musashi films much at all. i never thought i could find toshiro mifune dull. uchida's were much better imo! haven't read the books though
Edited by RBG, Dec 16 2016, 02:56:09 AM.
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3eyes
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2. Bushidô zankoku monogatari (Jap 63)

Painful to watch but I'm glad I did.
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burneyfan
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09. Hangyakuji a.k.a. Conspirator -- Ito, 1961

I believe this sixteenth-century tale has some basis in history; young Lord Saburo Nobuyasu is a battle hero, but he still finds himself a pawn, caught between his father, his tyrannical mother, and his wife from an enemy family. The film's beginning is quite dry and slow, but it picks up the pace as it proceeds.

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Edited by burneyfan, Dec 18 2016, 01:49:36 AM.
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ororama
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1. Assassination (1964) * 104 min.


*First time viewing.
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burneyfan
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10. Sengoku yarô a.k.a. Warring Clans -- Okamoto, 1963

Darkly comic adventure story about a shipment of muskets during war between the Oda and Takeda clans. Not as goofy as some Okamoto comedies like Aa bakudan -- a little more sedate -- but it has its fun moments.

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burneyfan
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11. Ninja bugeicho momochi sandayu a.k.a. Shogun's Ninja-- N. Suzuki, 1980

Two warring ninja clans; a young lord from one who's been living in exile in China returns to Japan to avenge his family. The film is...okay. Some of the fight scenes are pretty good, but...oh, man...the soundtrack is bad. It's like something from a fifth-rate, blurry, '70s kung fu movie -- all synth/pop/disco/easy listening garbage that totally distracts from the film. Not one of my finer viewing experiences in this challenge. (Incidentally...all these "ninja" movies I've been watching lately are from the Galloway samurai list. I'm not trying to sneak ninjas past a samurai challenge without a bit of authority backing me up. :) )

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Edited by burneyfan, Dec 21 2016, 12:54:42 AM.
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burneyfan
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12. Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke a.k.a. Samurai Spy -- Shinoda, 1965

Elegant cinematography in this VERY convoluted tale of the legendary Sasuke caught between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans, framed for murder. The film requires a fair bit of attention to keep track of all the players and their sides, but it's very entertaining, and Koji Takahashi does a nice job as Sasuke.

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burneyfan
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13. Shurayukihime a.k.a. Lady Snowblood -- Fujita, 1973 (rewatch)
14. Shurayuki-hime: Urami koiuta a.k.a. Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance -- Fujita, 1974

I was planning to watch the second film, but it had been a long time since I saw the first, so I rewatched the first in case anything followed from the first film. (It didn't really; you could see them out of order easily.) Both contain plenty of comic-book-style action and blood sprays; the second film's plot is less compact and humanizes/weakens Shurayuki more than the first. The Criterion Blu-ray looks really good.

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Edited by burneyfan, Dec 30 2016, 02:58:16 AM.
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burneyfan
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15. Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan a.k.a. Yotsuya Ghost Story -- Nakagawa, 1959 (rewatch)

Film adaptation of the popular nineteenth-century play/story of a wicked samurai and his unfortunate wife. The second half is enjoyably spooky. The few sources I've read suggest that this is the best film adaptation of the story, but there are several others.

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