Friday, June 8, 2012

The Last Samurai │ Kenji Misumi

 Ken Ogata (left) and Hideki Takahashi (right) 

In this very special edition of Angel Watchers, I am featuring director Kenji Misumi's 1974 chanbara epic "The Last Samurai", not to be confused with the Tom Cruise 2003 movie of the same name.  Actually it has been said that the Cruise movie was loosely based on the Misumi film, but personally I see no obvious similarities between the two productions.  I saw "The Last Samurai" when it was first released in 1974.  It impressed me so much that I saw it five times, and it was the inspiration for me to join the Hawaii Kendo Federation where I eventually earned a Black Belt.  Hideki Takahashi is simply magnificent as the ronin Toranosuke Sugi.  For those of you who are history buffs, the time span of the movie covers the waning years of the Tokugawa Shogunate all the way to the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, which saw the transformation of Japan from a closed feudal society to an open industrial country.  By-the-way, the sword fighting sequences in "The Last Samurai" have never been equaled in the long history of samurai movies.  They are elegantly choreographed with an amazing attention to historical detail and realism.  I love this movie so much and I was so happy when it was finally released July 26, 2012 on DVD.  I had been searching for a copy of it for a very long time.  Safe journeys to all the fans of Angel Watchers, wherever you may be.

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