Re: RARA-AVIS: Kurosawa and English subtitles

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 06 Jul 2004

David Moran wrote:

> Mark Sullivan wrote:
> > David, it sounds like you know a whole hell of a lot more about Japanese
> > films than I do (not that that takes much), so since you just mentioned
> > the second Yojimbo, have you seen Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo? Any good?
> I'd never even heard of it until you mentioned it. The IMDB opinion seems
> think that's it's not so good. My guess would be that it probably isn't,
> is the case with just about any sequels that have progressed that far from
> their source material.

I haven't seen it, but first and foremost, it's not really a sequel. Kurosawa had nothing to do with it, and "yojimbo" is merely Japanese for
"bodyguard." The IMPLICATION is that it's the same guy Mifune played in the Kurosawa films, but that, I believe, is more of a marketing ploy than anything else. The Zatoichi series was a lot of fun, despite being extremely formulaic and thus repetitive. But part of that formula was an underlying melancholy which -- just barely -- resonates with the concept of noir. They were actually more like series of Japanese ROCKY movies, with a lot more sweetness and a lot less chest-thumping. And on a smaller scale.
> Honestly I don't know as much about foreign genre pics as I do about
> movies (what can I say? ours are the best) but for rudimentary
> off-the-beaten-path samurai pic recommendations, I have three:
> The Gates of Hell (I don't think I ever knew what the Japanese title was,
> now I can't find it on IMDB...)


> Miyamoto Mushshi (with Toshiro Mifune doing his "crazy samurai" act
> again...but it's a good movie despite that)

Released here as SAMURAI, SAMURAI II, and SAMURAI III. There are others with "Musashi Miyamoto" in the title, since he was a historical figure whose story was filmed and refilmed.

> Chushingura (When I saw it it was called the 47 Ronin, but it's not a
> or remake of any sort of the Mizoguchi movie of the same name...they just
> take their plots from the same historical episode).

The story of the Loyal 47 Ronin (or "Chushingura") may well have been filmed more times than any other movie. I've heard it said there are hundreds of films based on this historical occurrence. Only about three or four versions have achieved any lasting popularity or acclaim.

THE BAD SLEEP WELL is ostensibly based on, or rather suggested by, HAMLET. Which I suspect makes it on that count alone just noir as hell.

Jim Beaver

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