[Marxism] Three samurai movies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 14 13:20:07 MDT 2011

Now running concurrently with the NY Asian Film Festival is the 
Japan Society film series titled Japan Cuts that includes ten 
films that are co-presented with the NYAFF. This is a review of 
three samurai movies, two of which were part of the Japan Cuts 
festival and that I saw on Tuesday night: Hideyuki Hirayama’s 
“Sword of Desperation” and Shigemichi Sugita’s “The Last Ronin” (a 
ronin is a samurai without a master—just like Toshiro Mifune in 
“Yojimbo”.) The third is a NYAFF “director’s cut” version of “13 
Assassins” by Takashi Miike that was shown on July 2nd, and also 
playing in a shortened form at the Cinema Village in New York that 
I saw last night.

A colleague at work, who is an expert on Japanese film, informed 
me that the director’s cut of “13 Assassins” includes scenes that 
are classic Miike. As someone who appreciates this director’s 
darkly florid imagination, particularly in his treatment of 
cruelty and violence (essential elements of samurai movies), I 
hope to see the director’s cut some day but have no problem 
recommending the shortened version that has a 96 percent fresh 
rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This review will make it even fresher.

I imagine that just about everybody has seen at least one samurai 
movie in their life. Ever since I saw Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” 
in 1961, I have made a point of taking in every work in this genre 
I can, treasuring above all the Samurai Trilogy directed by Yoji 
Yamada, an 80 year old who was once a member of the Japanese 
Communist Party and on record as saying that he tried to make some 
reference in his films “to man’s disaffection with society.”


More information about the Marxism mailing list