The Samurai trilogy

release year: 1954, 1955, 1956
genre: drama
viewing setting: home DVD, 2/10-11-13/99
what I expected: some cool samurai action
what I got: a long, drawn-out soap opera with martial overtones

synopsis: This is a three-movie account of the life of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman ever to walk the land of Japan.

impressions: I'm going to get right to the point: these were not fast-paced action movies. They weren't even action movies. The comparison that is commonly used is that this trilogy is the Japanese Gone With the Wind. Well, there's a reason I've never watched that movie, and it applies here. These three movies were so slow at times that I had to wonder if there was a point to them. Characters would be talking about things and then just stop, not resolving problems or being consistent. Take, for example, Otsu (the woman who "loved" Musashi.) First she doesn't want him, then she does, then she doesn't, then she does...when he finally tries to reciprocate, she doesn't want anything to do with him. Then, in the next movie, she's chasing after him again. Folks, this is STUPID. Characters like this are stupid, and make movies confusing and just no fun to watch. In the movies' defense, this was all based on actual events and people, so maybe this is the way the real-life Otsu acted, in which case the right thing to do was to accurately convey her stupidity on film. Also, there was a prevalence of the samurai code and lifestyle, honor and duty and such things. The problem is, you can't base six hours of drama around tiny amounts of cool stuff. Well, you can, but a lot of people won't be able to sit through it.

body count: there were a lot of deaths, but you can't watch this for the swordfights and battles

acting: I'm sure it was considered great, if you like long epics with deep meaning. I also think the acting lost something in the translation to English subtitles.

the good: the active parts (swordfights, not-backing-down moments) and the cultural insights

the bad: boring interludes, stupid characters

final word: another critically-acclaimed "epic" that just didn't entertain me

rating: C

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