This was the first Kurosawa movie I ever saw many years ago. I can remember being impressed by the big, elaborate battle scenes, especially the night sequence. Now that I’m a bit (well, more than a bit) older, I appreciate the technical quality and the subtleties of the drama more than the spectacle. The story here is the tale of a condemned criminal saved from execution thanks to his physical resemblance to a feudal lord. After the lord is killed, impersonating him becomes a full-time job. With three hours to play with, Kurosawa has a ton of time to let his characters develop, our hero slowly easing into the role and yet … well, there’s just no way to distill this down into a handful of words. Suffice it to say that this probably isn’t Kurosawa at his absolute best, but if you like his work you’ll like this movie. Fair warning, though: there’s some deliberately excessive horse suffering toward the end. Worth seeing


Genre: Drama

Subgenre: Samurai

Date reviewed: 5/26/2005