Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Last Samurai

It is a time for rejoicing, my friends. One of the finest samurai films ever made has been released on DVD (courtesy of Neptune Media): Kenji Misumi's magnum opus, The Last Samurai (1974). And no, Tom Cruise is nowhere in sight -- this is a completely different (and utterly superior) film. You may be familiar with Kenji Misumi from his wonderful 60s chambara work at Daiei (Zatoichi, Sleepy Eyes of Death), or his early 70s Lone Wolf & Cub films. If so, you've got to see this, his final, and finest, film. (I review it at length in my book, Warring Clans, Flashing Blades, so you'll want to get that as well … )

The Last Samurai is a sprawling saga of the Bakumatsu period, that dark and treacherous time in the mid-19th century that saw the bloody dissolution of the Tokugawa shogunate. Faction fought faction, plots and assassinations played out daily, and everywhere the clank of steel on steel filled the air! Into this maelstrom of violence and deception steps our protagonist, played by tall, dark and handsome Hideki Takahashi. He's fictional, but his friends and the events of the day are all right out of the pages of history. I should mention that his friends are all legendary swordsmen on differing sides of the conflict. You can bet things are going to get much worse before they get any better. Who will survive to see the restoration of the Emperor and the new days of peace, modernization and progress? Probably not many …

Shout out to my NYC bro John Gainfort for sending me the disk, and for all his help over the years. He authored the DVD and was one of the producers, so of course it looks and sounds awesome. This is quality product, from screen to disk to you. Thanks, John!

Honestly, this film is epic, absolutely in my top ten. Whether you're a collector or just want to have a couple of top-notch Japanese films around the house, this is a must-have/must-watch-again-and-again. You know me, I don't get paid to say this (god how I don't get paid) -- this is from the heart. So in short: Good shit, Maynard!


Steven P McVey said...

this flew under my radar. although i still have cases of dvds and films to watch, this will def go toward the top, right next to Cockroach Cop (w/ Tetsuya Watari) and the Inazuman series.

off topic: new pic? the image i've seen you seemed fatter (no beating bush) with longer hair. Hope all is good, stay healthy pony boy.

Patrick Galloway said...

Yep, new pic. I lost 55 lbs., thought I'd update the online image. Details: