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Sanshiro Sugata
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Akira Kurosawa

Written By:
Akira Kurosawa, Tsuneo Tomita

Susumu Fujita, Takashi Shimura, Ichir˘ Sugai, Yoshio Kosugi, Kokuten Kodo, Denjir˘ ďk˘chi, Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Akitake K˘no, Yukiko Todoroki, Sh˘ji Kiyokawa, Akira Nakamura, Ranko Hanai, Sugisaku Aoyama, Michisaburo Segawa, Sh˘ji Kiyokawa, Kunio Mita

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
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Movie Review by Movie Addict
November 1st, 2008

Saturday Samurai #5

You would never know watching Akira Kurosawa's directorial debut (he did some uncredited work in Uma) that it was supposed to be a war propaganda film. The censors supposedly removed quite a bit as they did not feel that it was strong enough in pushing spirituality.

The story, while not Samurai, as we are used to, is basically the same that Kurosawa uses later in The Samurai Trilogy, especially the first part. It could be called modern samurai.

We are all familiar with the old school vs the modern way of thinking and acting. This is the central theme. Yano (Denjir˘ ďk˘chi) has developed Judo as a replacement for Jujitsu. The old school followers are very upset. It was interesting to see Kurosawa's camera work as the frantic fighters ambush Yano. he stands strong and stoic and throws them one by one into the river.

Here is where Sugata (Susumu Fujita) is captivated and joins Yano to learn Judo. He is similar to Mifume in Musashi Miyamoto. He has skills, but he is raw and lacks the proper spirit. He learns to be pure and represents Yano against the leading jujitsu school for the police training contract. he has to fight the father of the girl he has fallen in love with.

Everything seems well, but this is a propaganda film so the evil West in the form of a jujitsu fighter wearing western clothing and smoking cigarettes comes in accompanied by blowing wind. Of course, Judo can beat Jujitsu with the proper dose of spirituality, but can it beat the West? I leave that to you to discover.

It is fortunate to have the opportunity to see these films in the United States. It would have been even greater if we could see the version that wasn't chopped up; but even the Japanese didn't get to see that.

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