Friday, July 17, 2020

Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island

Was it a satisfying end?

In some respects, absolutely. I've made my peace very quickly with this series, it was never meant to be an action trilogy but a persoanl story. It's actually really interesting to go from movie to movie and to see the genre change each time, the first movie had quite a bit of action mixed with a touch of drama, the second movie focused more on Musashi's journey with equal amounts action and drama, but this movie fits squarely in the drama and romance department despite there being slight instances of swordplay. I'm not going to bash the movie for not being totally accurate, the parts that did happen were a joy to see in action, but there were slight issues with this. Now I have no problem that the movie picks up a year since the last, and Musashi has almost fully centered himself into his swordsman demeanor being much more calm and collected than brash and wild. But the part that just made me go, whaaaat was the young boy that traveled with Musashi in the last film for a bit looks like a teenager while in the last movie he seemed to be maybe 10 years old, so I was slightly confused with the timeline for a bit. But hey if Rocky's kid can jump from 7 or 8 to 12 or 13, between Rocky 4 and 5 then I can't hold it against the movie too much. I will fully admit the romance did not grow on me much, it has it's moments, good moments at that, but it kind of drags the movie down for me because we're still dealing with this love triangle and it's undoubtedly very soap opera and old fashioned. I have nothing against Otsu but lady, you kinda need to just let him go cause it was harboring on desperate and just plain overreacting in the second movie but now, it's just old. Am I saying I could have made this trilogy better? No, but I could have streamlined a lot and thusly make more room for the important story bits. It's not sloppy and poorly executed by any stretch, but I do wish the main plot would have been to see a very bull headed, very anger and energy filled young man slowly form his own identity and to learn the way of the sword and to cement his own style. Which spoiler alert was the real story of this man, he was brash and arrogant, he did go too far in duels, but as he got older he better understood himself and his lifelong commitment to be a respected swordsman, he had a great appreciation and affinity for the arts (which I'm very happy to see in this movie a bit), and taught his own unique fighting style before putting it down in words so close to his death. But again, it's based on a body of work that was very loosely based on his life so that's kind of the reason the films are the way they are. Am I still happy to have seen it? Hell yes. Toshiro Mifune gets to show a bit of his acting chops in certain scenes throughout, the action bits while brief are done so well, the cinematography and sets are gorgeous, it's a good introduction to this genre if you want something more deep than the usual hack and slash, but even then every movie we have seen this week has an amazing and wonderful spin on it, whether it be story elements or purely stylistic choices. It's a good trilogy to be sure, and should be viewed on it's own merits than the genre that it's situated in. To be honest, I feel the whole movie is worth it just for the final scene where Musashi goes to duel with Kojiro, not only is it the common story that Musashi fashioned a sword out of a boat oar on the way to the island where they agreed to meet, but the visuals are breathtaking. Almost the entire fight is shot in silhouette against a sunrise, and it is so dang pretty. And really you can knock this trilogy out in a day, in about 5 hours to be a bit more precise, and I can think of worse ways to spend 5 hours of my life than to watch these movies. 4 stars, 8/10, another week gone. So what comes next? Difficult to see, always in motion is the future. But I have high hopes.

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