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  • Samurai III boasts far superior color and composition to the first installment. The opener includes a beautiful scene of Kojiro and Akemi by a magnificent waterfall. This sets the stylistically polished tone of the film, a nice attempt to revive our interest in the sometimes-stalling narrative (Will Kojiro fight the indestructible Musashi? Is Otsu going to get her man after spurning his inviting advances?)

    In terms of eye candy, this finale gives the most exotic colors (some may complain as "un-Japanese"), the best lighting, and the most skin of Mifune's Musashi! The story continues with the intellectual and spiritual education of Musashi. Even though the final duel is set up to be his moment of self-realisation, it is preceded by a tad-curious sequence of Musashi's farmlife. Very reminiscent of the samurai-villager relationship in Seven Samurai, Musashi becomes their protector against bandits. The result is formulaic but does what the story intends: return Musashi to a life of the earth - a humanist existence preached by his Buddhist education - and to his humble origin.

    P.S. Although Miyamoto Musashi/Samurai I is crucial to understanding the rise of our hero, it probably got Best Foreign film for 1955 Academy Awards during the sudden "discovery" of Japanese films starting with Rashomon.

    And if you're looking for a female figure with as much spunk as Musashi himself, note the courtesan in Samurai II. Her chastisement of Musashi, that he lacks humanly affection and thinks of women as weaklings, almost makes up for the overall iffy portrayal of "romantic heroines" in the trilogy!
  • Samurai III: Duel on Ganryu Island is the closing film of Inagaki's Samurai trilogy, the story of Musashi Miyamoto (Mifune). It is one of the best samurai films on its own and has the advantage of having the characters' history established in the first two films of the trilogy. This film abounds in good characters: Musashi's two disciples, a young boy and a horse trader, who exchange good natured barbs and loyally support Musashi; the two women in Musashi's life, good girl Otsu and bad girl Akemi; the brigand leader and his henchman, who was formerly Akemi's stepfather; and of course, Musashi's nemesis, Kojiro Sasaki, who is outstanding in both this film and Samurai II. Kojiro is actually a more interesting character than Musashi and reminds me of Tatsuya Nakadai's performance in Sword of Doom. The climactic duel on the beach with the rising sun in the background is amazing. Side note: This film has four of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai actors: Mifune, Shimura, Kato and Chiaki. See the whole trilogy.
  • This is the 3rd and last episode of the "Miyamoto Musashi" or also called "Samourai" trilogy, from director Inagaki with famous Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. The 1st episode having won the 1956 Oscar award of best foreign movie ! Inagaki's directing is refined and perfect, scenery is beautiful especially the sunset duel, choreography of combats is marvellous. Inagaki's directing and Mifune's great acting bring life to Musashi's legend and depict him with a lot of humanity.

    This episode has the most significance for Japanese with the famous combat between Miyamoto Mifune, invincible samourai of more than 60 duels armed with a wooden sword, and Sasaki Kojiro, most formidable adversary and skillful swordsman armed with an extremely long sword, on the beach of Ganryu Island at sunset. The trilogy shows the life of Japan's most famous samourai and one of it's main philosopher, with the "Gorin-no-sho" treaty of 5 rings, with his sword techniques and Budhism life philosophy. In summary, the 1st episode is how he becomes an adult man, the 2nd how he becomes an invincible swordsman and the 3rd how he becomes a legend. Subplots being his relationship with Otsu who sacrifices her life for Musashi.

    This trilogy is among Japan's two samourai masterpieces with Kurosawa's "Seven Samurais", mainly because of the directing/acting and Musashi's aura. Other Must-see Sword movies are recent movie Gohatto (or Tabou, 1999), Kurosawa's "Ame agaru" (After the rain, 1999), "Yojimbo" (The bodyguard) and "Sugata Sanshiro" (The Judo saga).
  • This film is the final installment of director Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy," three films covering the life of Musashi Miyamoto (Takezo,) Japan's most famous swordsman of the early 17th century and perhaps of all time.

    He was an icon of the warrior-philosopher model. He survived numerous duels to the death and retired to painting and writing. His best known work is the "Book of Five Rings," a book which gained popularity recently when it was championed by the Harvard Business School.

    All three films of Inagaki's trilogy, made in 1954, 1955, and 1956, are part of the elite Criterion Collection of classic films.

    Briefly, this movie resolves the conflict of the two women in Takezo's life, Otsu and Akemi, and leads up to Musashi's showdown with the second most famous swordsman of the day, Sasaki Kojiro. This is the famous Duel at Ganryu Island of the title.

    Although I cannot appreciate the Japanese language and must rely on the English subtitles for the meaning of dialog, I do appreciate the beauty of this early widescreen color film. (I believe Tojoscope is a Japanese version of cinemascope.) One could take almost every frame of this film and it would make a stunning still. The costumes and the sets reflect an attention to detail of color, lighting and composition.

    For its sense of rather understated action, I particularly enjoyed the opening scene. Sasaki Kojiro demonstrates his signature Swallowtail Turn, a move whereby he severs the tail feathers of this notably swift and agile bird in flight. It's not the portrayed animal cruelty that I enjoyed; it's the human quickness and skill that would be required to accomplish such a feat. I certainly hope that no birds were actually harmed in the making of the film.
  • I feel very confident and content once I finished watching the trilogy. What starts of a nothing end on greatness. Lots of things have been said in the movie about the humans, the way they live, they behave, they treat others and above all their desires grooved in the very depth of the heart. What is most likable is the mildness with which things are being said but every bit needs to be heard with full attention. After watching the trilogy I read the book written by Miyamoto (A book of five rings – Must read) himself and got an inside more clearly.

    Now the movies, all three are gems without a second thought. The acting, cinematography and above all the direction is very good. Emphasis on little things, shades of lights (sun is setting etc) and even water (streams, rivers) everything is perfectly matched with the movie to the core. Above all is the way Mifune enacted the role, the way he delivers the expressions for an arrogant in the first outing, then the confused man and in the last gentle, kind and wise person is extremely believable and I have no doubt in saying that I can't imagine someone else in the role.

    A must watch trilogy.

    8.5/10 (all three movies)
  • I think this is the best movie of the series--and certainly more satisfying than its predecessor.

    It is important to note that these movies were made nearly 50 years ago and existing copies on DVD are in poor condition--with fading and sepia tones instead of the vibrant original. This became VERY apparent when I saw the beginning of the 3rd film. The color was nearly perfect for the initial scene and that is great, as it's a beautiful and extremely artistic shot. At times throughout the movie, some of the scenes are once again vivid while others are faded and lose their impact. You can't blame the film for that, but you wish Criterion would try to digitally enhance the prints they've got to improve the colors and get rid of some scratchy cels.

    Back to the story, Mifune's character is nearly perfected in his quest to become the ultimate samurai. Throughout the last film and this one, another incredibly great samurai played by Koji Tsuruta is itching for a showdown to the death. But, because Mifune is more mature and no longer needs this for validation, he repeatedly tries to avoid the fight--after all, what does he have to prove? Of course, you KNOW this showdown must take place and it is a very satisfying conclusion. Along the way, Otsu returns and swears her undying love for him. I felt really bad for her, as she has waited YEARS for him and I certainly wouldn't have put her off like he did! Sorry about that.

    Oh yeah, anyways the conclusion really delivers and the film makes the trilogy all worth while.
  • It has been more than a decade since I first and last saw this movie, and it still haunts me. This whole trilogy of films, about two rival samurai in medieval Japan, is mythic. It even inspired me to write a poem-- which I will spare you. It is not just a male flick, either. The sub-plot about Otsu is very romantic, though in a non-feminist, self-sacrificial way. On the other hand, she is the only character who gets what she wants. She just has to wait through three movies to have it. Throughout the trilogy, Mifune plays the famous samurai Musashi Miyamoto who develops from an outlaw wild-man in the first movie to a mystic philosopher in this one. While his rival, Kojiro, possesses consummate skill, Musashi achieves, in this film, a graceful detachment which almost makes him resist the climactic sword fight. But swashbuckler fans need not worry because the final confrontation is spectacular.
  • botkiller25 March 2007
    The Samurai series is one of my favorites. Toshiro Mifune is by far one of the most classic and amazing Japanese actors of the screen, and he outdoes himself in the Samurai series. The colors, the settings of these films are amazing, and part III, with it's wonderful dual at Ganryu Island, is by far one of the most well-planned and conducted films in history. If you have not seen this series, you need to; it need not matter if you are a Samurai film junkie or just a cinemaphile, you will enjoy the subtle touches that make this one of the finest trilogies in film.

    I'd also suggest seeing Yojimbo, Sanjuro and of course the Seven Samurai; other great titles are "The sleepy eyes of death" and The Lone Wolf and Cub series.
  • lastliberal18 October 2008
    This was, by far the best of the trilogy and a fine ending. It had less Samurai action that the other two, but it was much more inspiring.

    Kojiro (Koji Tsuruta) thought himself the best in the land and sought a duel with Musashi (Toshirô Mifune). But Musashi wanted to devote his life to becoming a better person. he went back to the land that he rejected and became a farmer.

    In the meantime, both Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) and Akemi (Mariko Okada) managed to find him. Can you imagine that scene? Feeling rejected, Akemi is made to betray Musashi to the brigands. The effort fails and Musashi accepts the duel with Kojiro.

    The duel itself was magnificent but short. It was a fitting end to a film that featured outstanding cinematography and a compelling story of the drive to perfection.
  • 1st watched 4/19/2003 - 7 out of 10(Dir-Hiroshi Inagaki): Sweeping romantic Hollywood-like epic from Japan that just happens to be about a Samurai. This is the last in a trilogy of films about Mr. Musashi(played by Toshiru Mifune) and his Samurai journeys. This one plays more like a romantic piece with two women fighting(bawling & brawling) over the affections of this strong-willed but soft-hearted hero and brave warrior. It's awesome to see a film made in Japan where the warrior hero cares about more than killing his opponent. The obvious issue of honor is foremost in this Samurai's mind and the killing just comes with the job. So many films that Americans were introduced to from Japan were either silly Godzilla-type movies or karate flicks(with almost no heart, but a lot of fighting). This is the kind of movie that Japan is probably very proud of, but is not often seen by American audiences. Bravo to Criterion for putting this into their DVD collection!! Now I'd just like to see the 1st two pictures in the trilogy to know more about what happened to the characters prior to this film. The climatic duel is also `one-of-a-kind' and has to be seen to be appreciated. I'll just leave it at that without giving too much away. Give this one a shot, you'll be glad you did!
  • ebiros228 August 2011
    Although this is a samurai movie, story is far more than just sword fights. Musashi Miyamoto is perhaps the most famous swordsman in Japan. He starts from a humble beginning to become the best sword fighter in Japanese history. His arch rival Kojiro Sasaki is hounding him to a duel. Kojiro is also a master swordsman.

    Based on a novel by Eiji Yoshikawa, the final chapter of Musashi trilogy focuses on meeting between Musashi and his arch rival Kojiro Sasaki. The two battles in the most famous duel in Japanese history at Ganryu island.

    I've read Yoshikawa's novel before seeing this trilogy, and the battle sequences are less gritty than the way they are depicted in the novel. This is perhaps not to portray Musashi as a mean swordsman.

    There's dignity, and consideration for other human in Musashi. The caliber of people living a humble life around him seems to have dignity and innocence that's not seen these days. As a society, we are definitely going down hill compared to the times this movie was made.

    You get to see young Toshiro Mifune , Kaoru Yachigusa, and Mariko Okada in their prime delivering their A list performances.

    A very classy film that's worth watching.
  • This is the third part of a comment on The "Samurai Trilogy," following those on the pages for Miyamoto Musashi (Samurai I) and Ichijoji no Ketto (Samurai II). Ketto Genryujima (Duel at Genryu Island) can be seen as part 1 come full cycle, as the young Kojiro seeks validation through a confrontation in arms with Musashi. In fact this is mostly his movie in spite of Mifune's top billing, and Musashi's love interest Otsu is likewise partially eclipsed by her rival and foil Akemi and her machinations. The climactic finish is deferred many times, but each bit of side action comes forth with a sense of necessity, and its ethical principle is illustrated in a way that comes naturally from the context, and is not imposed with a didactic tone. By the time the duel happens, both participants have grown as men-- appreciative of the grand scheme of things, humbled by the small part they play, and respectful of each other. We do see the hateful side of the "bad guy," but such glimpses are then followed by an honorable act of some sort, or by evidence that he has reflected on his methods, and come to see a better way he should've followed. Inagaki's films, especially these three, have always been the best-regarded of the "classy" samurai movies-- I lived in Japan during the time these films were made, and I can tell you there were plenty of "trashy" ones! Today's pulp doesn't hold a candle. However seriously these films were taken in Japan, in the west there's been a tendency to pigeonhole them as samurai flicks, and the trilogy is only recently being seen as one major work, though I've still yet to see it shown all at once, as a single entity. Why that is, I'll never know, as the whole thing is uniform in quality, and the parts work as an epic accumulation as well as they stand on their own. The first episode did win the Oscar for best Foreign-language film, but interest in the rest of the trilogy was sporadic-- the films were issued and re-issued under generic-sounding names over the years, and when spoken of together it was in an off-putting way, simply as Samurai 1, 2 and 3. But Inagaki's masterpiece is the capstone of a distinguished career that began in the prewar silent era, and though he was deemed too "Japanese" and too specialized in Bushido culture and the prewar past by western critics, this work transcends all those inapt criticisms and is very satisfying fare to native and foreign viewer alike-- I am delighted to present the intact trilogy in support of these claims. (Look for it on YouTube, on the cuFFBlinks channel).
  • I thought it was interesting as it was also a contrast between real life experience and the real deal, versus one who learns from books. Takezo's fame and fortune comes from the countless of duels he had overcome, and each dispatching of an opponent builds upon his reputation. For Kojiro's case, here's one lesser known samurai, no doubt skilled as we learn from Part 2 in his attainment of a certificate from a top school, but knows no fame like Takezo's. While he is competent, many such as the Shogun still seeks out the tried and tested for his troops' training, preferring very much someone who has shown mettle from his battle scars, versus a textbook warrior. Hence Kojiro's envy just grows to a level of a glory seeker where he takes a step forward, and issues a duel challenge. Kojiro's evilness becomes more pronounced here, in the way he kills just to lure our hero out.

    We continue to see the mellowing changes to Takezo, in a very restraint introduction in a fight sequence no less, and quite unlike his younger, brash self, there's a very different, almost Zen approach to various situations, though still no pushover if the situation calls for his drawing of the sword. His skills have grown considerably, and in a key scene we see him gaining admiration without physical violence, and earns a disciple in the process. In this installment, an episode with the Lord Shogun's teacher puts him off totally, where he learns of there being no glory in dead men, that he turns toward a higher calling, to help poor villages in need of protection against bandits, in a sort of Seven Samurai way. Hence his turning back to a dream of being a farmer, and with his estranged lover Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa) joining him in an attempt for reconciliation, Takezo has his hands full with their brand of restrained emotional love getting a little more airtime, though at least it results in closure from the open-endedness in the second film.

    There are still a number of shortcomings of course, and it stemmed from the introduction of characters in the final arc of the story, such as Kojiro's lover Omitsu (Michiko Saga), who serves little purpose than to pepper the trilogy with yet another weak woman character (though of course, quite in line with the times), and for her and her family to serve some pride in having Kojiro as a relative-to-be after his appointment by the Shogun. Little is seen beyond the demonstration of class, and for conversational pieces with Kojiro to highlight his inner desire and turmoil. Takezo's childhood friend Matahachi (Sachio Sakai) also gets conveniently forgotten here, despite my feeling that he could have played a larger role in the lead up to the finale. But he's relegated to a support character, undeserving of a proper sending off.

    The most startling development belonged to Akemi (Mariko Okada), the tragic character whose unrequited love gives her new found strength to do something quite despicable in the series. As the adage goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and although the character becomes somewhat negative in her outlook, with vengeance and jealous rage clouding her mind, it's a far cry from the helpless, innocent lass that she started out as, no thanks to a shameful episode from the past that pushed her somewhat over the edge of desperation, especially when her dreams and hopes get dashed, being a character cornered.

    While some would like to argue that the best fights are to be found in the second film of the series, I thought the ultimate one, happened to be here (saving the best for last of course), where 2 top pugilist arrange to meet in a death match, each understood that the other stands in their way to claim top honours. And the steady progression made by Takezo can be demonstrated none other than his carefully crafted weapon while en route to the fabled Ganryu island, where he takes a wooden oar and shapes it into his final weapon of choice.

    I thought this had plenty of significance in pugilistic stories of the East. Famed swordsman usually has precious swords in their possession, and one of the best in Chinese author Louis Cha's folklore is - whose name I literally translate - "Lonely, Seeking Defeat", a top pugilist who nickname spells out his frustration at being alone at the top, and without an opponent of his equal to spar with. Amongst the weapons that he has at the time of death include a humongous iron sword, and a humble wooden one. I suppose the latter will be one's weapon of choice just because one has no need of weapons that could maim or kill. Only a confident exponent would choose to utilize a weapon from that material against an opponent with a conventional weapon, and Takezo through this simple aspect, has shown supreme assuredness over Kojiro Sasaki's long katana "Clothes Rod", and his famed move, the "Swallow's Tail".

    So what's my verdict of the Samurai Trilogy? It's a lot better than expected despite the transfer showing the age of the film. It moves at snail's pace no doubt, but has a couple of highly intense, though at times short, fight sequences that are still capable of wowing a modern audience. At its core, a solid story about a legend's life from zero to hero, and a transformation within himself in order to pursue a higher calling.
  • I have seen the three films in one shot, and I have to say: AMAZING ! Samurai's life is a must know: honor, proud, philosophy it was a way of life. The three films from Inagaki are really great: good photography, well directed moving camera, it really seems that you are eating rice in the middle of the 17th century in Japan. This is also due to the language, its japanese...yes Japanese, but doesn't matter because it's better ! The strength in the talks are only comprehensive in the native language. If you like adventure, historical, romance or action movies you MUST see this three films (cannot be considered one to one). Inagaki received the Oscar in 1955 for Samurai I, thats all. And enjoy!
  • Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island is the last part of the so-called Samurai trilogy about accomplished artist, author, fencer, philantrophist and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi. While the first movie focused on the protagonist's challenging life as a teenager and the second film portrayed the changes he underwent in his early twenties, this movie shows how the protagonist became one of the most prestigeous samurai in Japanese history in his late twenties and beyond.

    The plot focuses on the fight between ronin Miyamoto Musashi and samurai Kojiro Sasaki who were the most skilled fighters of their time. It also shows how Miyamoto Musashi finishes his traveling and establishes a little farm with a cunning boy and impuslive horse trader who want to become his disciples. Miyamoto Musashi has become calmer, gentler and smarter as he protects local villagers against a group of bandits. The movie also explores Miyamoto Musashi's relationship to faithful but unstable Otsu and manipulative yet passionate Akemi.

    This movie is the greatest part of the trilogy because it features everything that made the first two films great but increased the overall quality of these components. The cinematography is most impressive and especially the final duel on the island is beautifully choreographed and shot. The character development is particularly strong for both side character and the protagonist who truly becomes an accomplished ronin by the end of the trilogy. The fight scenes are diversified and feature a much more intellectual note than the two previous entries. In one scene, Miyamoto Musashi scares off a group of angry gamblers by dexterously removing flies from his bowl of food with his chopsticks. The different subplots come together and the fates of the different characters are revealed until the end of the titular duel. It would have even been possible to make another movie telling how the surviving characters continued to live but this lack of proper conclusion prevents the story from overstaying its welcome and invites to purchase Yoshikawa Eiji's novel Musashi.

    On a side note, this movie indirectly promotes celibacy. Miyamoto Musashi only becomes an accomplished ronin when he renounces his love of woman even though his convictions are shown to be somewhat shaky towards the end of the movie. His decision isn't complicated to understand as both Akemi and Otsu exaggeratedly stalk the protagonist and distract him from his way of the sword on numerous occasions. Some people might describe these scenes as misogynistic but they aren't. It's actually refreshing to see a rational alternative to desperately trying to be in a relationship.

    In the end, this concluding third part is also the greatest film of the impressive Samurai trilogy that has stood the test of time as some of the greatest jigaideki movies ever made. If you like this movie, make sure to check out the impressive Zatoichi movie collection as well as Kurosawa Akira's works of the fifties and sixties.
  • This comment flows out from previous ones.

    In cinematic terms, the trilogy looks to both East and West. West: the Hollywood western feel and tone of romantic adventure in a lawless land. Usually in a western this is rooted in landscape, the vast expanse of sky and desert that crystallizes being, which reflects Western notions of god. By contrast here, the landscape is fluid and dynamic: a recurring and important motif is transient bodies of water, and often bridges, human effort to ford time.

    This is how each film ends, With these evocative shots of running waters as lovers part with the tides. The last shot leaves Musashi on a boat and we're unsure where the tides bring him next. Oh, a lot of the film is otherwise steeped in studio-lot artifice, you will often see for instance painted skies and sunsets.

    The underlying visual inspiration is Japanese ukiyo-e. Buddhist- inspired in its original context, images (often of water or bridges) reflected this floating world of sorrows and melancholy yearning. We see this in Musashi's own journey of mastering self, reaching here the almost ascetic contentment of working the land.

    Mizoguchi was more somberly portraying this floating world at the time. Later jidaigeki would more bitterly question the heroism and samurai devotion. Here it is a rustic, straightforward rendition in keeping with public perception of Musashi as a straight soul; so are the images, so is the drama. Handcarving, folk instead of high art. The iconography has been given specific care to emulate idyllic perceptions of Musashi's time.

    So, a heroic story of romanticized legend, acted by a great Mifune, who like Musashi, had an intuitive rather than studied grasp of life. Told by referencing artistic tradition of that time which is romanticized by the same step, which is (roughly) the same distance in time to us.


    The trilogy doesn't mine in a cinematic way Musashi's rich ideas about the 'Way', expressed in writing near the end of his life and passed on to a student. Musashi of course wrote on swordsmanship. Roughly speaking, his teaching is layered in the following way: realizing the many crafts as one, right technique, right strategy, refutation of flawed strategy, void as principle. (meant in the Buddhist way)

    Musashi did not intend to establish a rigidly complicated system of study, but rather quickly sketch a practical handbook for the continuation of his school. He was not a learned scholar, nor from the Buddhist standpoint a spiritual master. His writings are not artistic. When he says 'cut the opponent with a void spirit', it is not metaphor, poetry or metaphysics. He is trying to distill an experiential state of mind.

    The specifics of fighting do not interest us here, an abstract look at first principles should. The idea is that fighting before we even get to blows is two viewers coming together, establishing a situation. Referred to in the books as strategy, what Musashi is talking about is ways to manipulate the psychology of the situation.

    Some it is makes amazing common sense, for instance approach the other feigning a lazy or weak demeanor then close the gap in the last steps with an explosive burst, what he calls 'getting someone drunk'. There are all sorts of this if you read carefully; 'passing on' mental states, creating mental states in the other, picturing yourself as the other, all to control and direct perception.

    It seems what rules in these and other instances is the enigmatic 'twofold gaze', perception and sight. What can this be? Musashi does not explain, but I think it's this; grasping the difference and, ultimately, the inseparability of seeing and perception as the whole stageplay carried on in the mind's eye. Actually experience this. This is a bit like: sight is the calm lake before you while perception, the fact that a self is actively engaged in perceiving, a self which can experience fear or arrogance, is constantly throwing pebbles in that lake, distorting the surface.

    We have similar notions in the West of how the latter bends the first. But Musashi is worth studying for the purely intuitive immediacy of the imports, it was after all something he learned as a matter of life and death.

    This is observing dynamics instead of trying to decipher intent, theorizing. Fixing the eyes but not stopping the mind coming and going, cultivating an inquisitive and broad spirit. The idea is that none of this is an idea, but something that can be practiced and observed. That's also the Tao. The practice of perceiving the inner self of things through the outside form.
  • lokko533 August 2015
    A fascinating conclusion to a legendary character. Like the previous film, this one focuses on one particular event of the real life Musashi: the duel at Ganryu Island. In the previous film Musashi undergoes a transformation at the end where he realizes that there is no benefit in seeking to kill his opponents. He has matured and is no longer interested in instigating duel matches. It begins the section on Musashi interestingly with a match by Zen monks where a young arrogant monk challenges anyone in public.

    Throughout the film Musashi is constantly assessing each situation and trying to choose the humble path. In the first film we catch a glimpse through dialogue that Musashi farmed the land and was unhappy, but now that he has lived his dream as a samurai he returns to the farming life in order to protect a defenseless village. Before returning to farming Musashi lived in a city where he considered becoming an employed samurai but instead avoids it and starts to take up wood crafting Mahayana buddhas. He leaves when he was set to duel with Kojiro Sasaki who had been waiting for Musashi to gain in prominence in order to benefit from his victory in the duel.

    Musashi postpones the fight for a year and the final scene sequence presents the duel match as the climactic scene. The final scene was masterfully choreographed and a memorable samurai duel on the beach side as the sun rises in the morning. There is not much fighting per se, but the build up of suspense and style is excellent.

    This film also relies on the continued obsession of Otsu and Akemi with Musashi and his unreturned love. Musashi is truly concerned with virtue and wants to avoid misleading women when his true love remains the life of a samurai. Musashi is tortured by the last scene with Otsu in the second film where he threw himself over her and she rejected him. He felt that he had committed a rash, dishonorable action, while in truth she was simply conflicted. The third film opens up with a monologue by Kojiro Sasaki where his obsession with fame includes the killing of Musashi provides a chilling introduction into his character. Sasaki becomes the paradigm of unfettered fame at all costs. Otsu who followed him out of confusion, finally decides to leave him and seek out Musashi. Again, the women present themselves as strong characters still at the mercy of savage men.

    There is a sense of flawed portrayals of the female characters. While at times they are multi-dimensional characters, at other times it can come across as soap opera type acting and plot wise. In addition, the story of Musashi as the ideal samurai is difficult to accept given our cynical age, but Musashi is a Japanese folk hero that has been influential to Japanese virtue for over 400 years. Mifune does provide depth to the character, but is limited given the goodness that the character represents within a patriotic context.

    Nevertheless, the film represents excellent story telling and cinematography that stands the test of time. While the presentation of the ideal samurai will die in the coming years with the birth of the anti-hero by Kurosawa, this is a quintessential trilogy for the historical appreciation of the genre that in a few years would reinvent itself and influence western film making.

    While the Musashi Miyamoto trilogy is far from historical accuracy, they provide an entertaining introduction to this Japanese character that transcends time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just don't get why in Japanese movies women are just really 2 different characters. They are either A) the incredibly weak woman that would rather die than be without her love when she doesn't even really have a reason to love this guy or B) the conniving backstabbing evil of the world people. Otsu is A, all the other women in this movie are B with Akemi being both A & B. Why the heck does Otsu keep stalking this guy from town to town? Honey, you've been surving pretty well on your own all your life and you're pretty hot for an Asian chick, I'm sure some guy would take pretty good care of you without making you stalk him all over Japan.

    The romance is weak, very weak, but this is movie from the 50s we're talking about. Nothing in the first two movies really setup why these women are in love with Musashi, they just are cause he's Musasi who happens to be the main character, we're suppose to love him too and not question what makes these women psycho.

    Musashi's motivations are weak too along with Kojiro's. Why travel around and murder people in town after town when good looking women are inviting you to stay and have a good time? What else is there in life, really??? Even despite being annoyed by the bad romance scenes with DRAG on and on, and everyone in feudal Japan being murdering serial killers this movie is still pretty darn entertaining, and the actions are darn good. Its not close up face shots during the action, instead its well layed out camera work that displays Mifume's physical prowess. The guy is quick. The final duel is a thing of beauty, and is copied by every horrible japanimation cartoon on the face of the planet these days. I hate japanimation.
  • The first two movies of the series "Miyamoto Musashi" and "Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô" were already ones that was very little wrong with but this movie is basically even a better one, one basically every front thinkable.

    The movie its story flows way better, which is probably also due to the fact that lots of things finally get wrapped up in this movie and there also is more action to enjoy this time. By todays standards it perhaps is still a pretty slow movie to watch but still the pace and flow within this movie was something I wasn't quite expecting from this movie, especially since the first two movies weren't as fast going or well flowing as this one was. The movie really felt and also looked as if it got made by an entirely different cast and crew this time, while this of course was not the case. Perhaps it was due to the fact that "Miyamoto Musashi" and "Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô" got made almost back-to-back, while before this movie director Hiroshi Inagaki also had go on and directed a totally different movie, "The Lone Journey".

    The fight sequences do not disappoint within this movie. This is basically what the entire trilogy was building up toward. It's end fight has become quite legendary over the years and is a beautiful looking done one.

    The whole trilogy definitely benefits from the fact that it got shot in full color. It's natural environments and sets are all beautiful looking and its visual look is actually one of the reasons why the whole trilogy is liked so much and still quite popular to watch, over 50 years later now.

    More of a 'modern' movie than any of its two predecessor and definitely better flowing with its story and characters, also definitely due to the movie its action. A perfect conclusion for the trilogy.

  • Cosmoeticadotcom29 July 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    Hiroshi Inagaki's 1954-1956 three part color film, The Samurai Trilogy, is unlike many filmic trilogies for the very fact that it is, indeed, one exactly five hour long film, and not three separate linked films, for the first two films have no real endings. In this way it has much in common with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. However, whereas those three are separate films, more or less, their source work is not. Yes, J.R.R. Tolkien's book is often printed in three separate volumes, but it is one work. This three part film is also derived from one singular literary work, from Eiji Yoshikawa's 1935 novel Musashi, loosely based upon the real life 17th Century Japanese folk hero, the samurai Musashi Miyamoto, who penned a classic book called The Book Of Five Rings. That all stated, the landscapes of Japan and sheer numbers of extras in this film are far more impressive, visually, than the CG crap that the Lord Of The Rings films spewed. Overall, The Samurai Trilogy is a good film, but while the narrative story gets better and tighter with each succeeding film, the visual quality of each succeeding film worsens on The Criterion Collection's three disks, both in the original film stock and the poor transfers.

    If nothing else, this film, The Samurai Trilogy, can be seen as a sort of training ground for the great Toshiro Mifune to try out and perfect a wide range of acting styles and characters within character that he would unleash on the film lovers of the world throughout the rest of his career, be it in his films with Kurosawa, or long after. And, if a film can be said to have allowed something like that to happen, then its merits are certainly more than its flaws, melodramatic or not. But, even on top of that, a film like this acts as a sort of entrée into the greater and deeper art put out by the aforementioned masters, and allows those great works of art to be more greatly appreciated, for contrast can clarify what the mists of the ineffable do not. In such a spirit, thank you sensei Inagaki.