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$29.79 list($21.96)
1. The Pillow Book
$79.99 $62.23
2. Mishima
$29.95 $27.95
3. The Ballad of Narayama
$29.95 $21.89
4. Vengeance Is Mine
list($24.95)
5. Eijanaika
list($9.98)
6. Samurai Banners
$12.99 $7.73
7. Virus
list($9.99)
8. Samurai Reincarnation
$4.99 $0.85
9. Gonin 2
$4.67 list($19.99)
10. Samurai Reincarnation
$17.99 list($19.95)
11. Peacock King

1. The Pillow Book
Director: Peter Greenaway
list price: $21.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767801962
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 21699
Average Customer Review: 3.64 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Drowning by Numbers) continues to delight and disturb us with his talent for combining storytelling with optic artistry. The Pillow Book is divided into 10 chapters (consistent with Greenaway's love of numbers and lists) and is shot to be viewed like a book, complete with tantalizing illustrations and footnotes (subtitles) and using television's "screen-in-screen" technology. As a child in Japan, Nagiko's father celebrates her birthday retelling the Japanese creation myth and writing on her flesh in beautiful calligraphy, while her aunt reads a list of "beautiful things" from a 10th-century pillow book. As she gets older, Nagiko (Vivian Wu) looks for a lover with calligraphy skills to continue the annual ritual. She is initially thrilled when she encounters Jerome (Ewan McGregor), a bisexual translator who can speak and write several languages, but soon realizes that although he is a magnificent lover, his penmanship is less than acceptable. When Nagiko dismisses the enamored Jerome, he suggests she use his flesh as the pages which to present her own pillow book. The film, complete with a musical score as international as the languages used in the narration, is visually hypnotic and truly an immense "work of art." --Michele Goodson ... Read more

Reviews (106)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Word Made Flesh
The Pillow Book is a rare film that transcends limitations of film and text in a unique handling by auteur Peter Greenaway. Based loosely on the tenth century writings of Sei Shonagon, Greenaway brings to the screen a rich visual amalgam that relies on stunning settings, the physical beauty of actors Vivian Wu and Ewan McGregor, and the joy of ancient and modern systems of writing that is calligraphy. Greenaway's penchant for incorporating art, numbers, books, and architecture in a filmic medium ensure those who enjoy his style will not be disappointed. As a young child, Wu's character has celebrated her birthday's by having her father write the story of creation on her face in a family ritual celebration. However, with adulthood and marriage, her spouse is neither interested nor willing to continue her tradition. Frustrated at her inability to find a lover who is a good calligrapher, or a calligrapher who is a good lover, Wu finally meets a bi-sexual translator, Jerome (McGregor) who offers himself to Wu as a living surface for her erotic creativity. Inspired by the opportunity to obtain revenge on the publisher who blackmailed her father and is Jerome's lover, Wu's character, Nagiko creates the ultimate love poem illuminated in red, gold and black characters and delivered to the publisher on the naked body of Jerome. The Pillow Book is adult eroticism at it's most sensuous and visual best. It is a story that revels in binaries of profane and grotesque, yet delights the eye with Greenaway's ability to translate a vision of love and horror into a singular statement of lush physical beauty and sexuality.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Finely Created Work of Art
I happen to be a great admirer of the controversial Mr Greenaway. I think his direction in film is bold and produces powerful results. The Pillow Book is a great example of this talent. It is an amazing combination of his narrative technique, experimental explorations and talent for finding compelling stories. The images are beautiful, especially the shot of Vivian Wu standing in the rain covered with writing on her flesh which slowly melts away. Her character is not that complex, but the action of the story is sufficient to carry her along throughout the tale as she fights for independence and a suitable form of artistic expression. Essentially the story is about the fetishisation of books and sex. These things are enough to make a great movie in my mind. Nagiko is a girl who goes through a ritual where her father writes on her back on her birthday as he tells her of a myth. After burning her way out of a suffocating marriage, she grows up to become a radical artist writing on bodies and searching for a man who can replace her father in the birthday tradition. She meets a talented man named Jerome who she falls in love with, but is eventually sacrificed to her father's old enemy. In the course of the narrative she writes her own Pillow Book on a series of men. It culminates in a gruesome act of jealousy and revenge (a notion not foreign to Greenaway's narratives).

The scene of Jerome's suicide is particularly powerful and works well with the screen-in-screen shots because it shows in one shot the sequence between thought and action, self-perception and actual action. This is a new style for Greenaway that works tremendously well in this movie because it fits so well with the egotism and self-obsession of the characters involved. The movie as a whole is a powerful evocation of a great Japanese classic. I highly recommend this movie who is in the mood to watch something eccentric, visually moving and stunningly beautiful.

1-0 out of 5 stars A porn movie but 'Artistic'
Highly over-rated. It's like when an artist pisses and ejaculates over a picture and calls it 'nature', then people go 'ooooh aaaaaah!such genius!'. That pretty much summarises it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty and obsession
Two of the most beautiful things in the world are the written word and the human figure. Even the ones that are not special in themselves embody meaning and subtlety. When Greenaway uses the figure to carry words, he creates imagery that can not be forgotten.

There is so much in this movie that I hardly know where to begin. It starts with a child. Her father's birthday ritual is to tell her a story, always the same one, and to paint calligraphy on her face. Maybe it's a little silly, but it's sweet and loving.

Over time, the girl loses her innocence but gains the strength of adulthood. Her memory of that charming ritual develops, too. First, it loses its childhood innocence; it becomes a passion for her, and the standard by which she measures her lovers. In the end, the ritual gains even more strength and becomes the vehicle for a deadly obsession.

I must warn the potential viewer that the movie's second half goes places far beyond where sanity stops. It is not for people with tender sensibilities.

I'll come back to this movie for it sensual beauty. I won't come back too often, though. The raw rage at the end is just too hard.

2-0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously overrated
A director tosses in some "artful" shots and full nudity for most of the movie and suddenly it's a "beautiful film"???
I kept expecting to see Marilyn Chambers pop up in scenes. I'm not against T&A flicks, but this is trying to be something it isn't, which is sad and pathetic. It's a cheap trashy film that gets a good reputation b/c of who directed it. ... Read more


2. Mishima
Director: Paul Schrader
list price: $79.99
our price: $79.99
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Asin: 6300270939
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 29583
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Description

An acclaimed and auspicious biography of an infamous and brilliant Japanese author who performed ritual seppuku in 1970. ... Read more

Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars A biopic that is even more impressive than its subject
Most biographical films of artists (Immortal Beloved, Amadeus, etc.), even if they are well made, hardly live up to the greatness of the people they describe. This film is a notable exception, one which outdoes its subject. Mishima was an accomplished writer, one whose works deserve to be read, but no single work of his stands out as an unquestionable masterpiece of world literature. This film, on the other hand, is without doubt one of the masterpieces of world cinema.

The film is broken down into interlocking "modules": those which depict Mishima's life and those which recreate episodes from his books. The literary recreations are done in a highly stylized manner which captures (and at times, outdoes) the mystery and poetry of the original texts. The biographical segments feature a fine sense of both drama and poetry. They capture the essence of Mishima's passion in a way that even he himself was unable to do.

The score by Philip Glass is one of the finest film scores ever written, and it turns the film almost into a kind of opera. It is far superior to any of his other compositions.

I was born a few years after Mishima committed suicide, but I am friends with two people who knew him personally, both of whom have excellent taste in both film and literature: they both recommend this film highly. The film may take some factual liberties, but it represents the fundamental nature of the man with infallible accuracy.

Whether your interest is great cinema, great literature, Japan, or Mishima himself, do yourself a favor: see this film.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Movie--Lackluster Transfer!
In both the running commentary and in the DVD production notes, it is revealed that the participants involved with "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" felt they were producing a film "no one would see." How odd that a film that felt it had no audience, turned out to be an exceptional and popular film about a writer's life and work.

What sets Mishima apart from others in this genre, is that Paul Shrader focused solely on the themes that appear in both Mishima's personal life and within his writings. This is not a tell-all exploration of a known celebrity, rather it is an in-depth analysis of a man's core beliefs that motivated both his direction in life and his writings. Broken into three distinct styles, the film covers Mishima's past (black and white), present (documentary color) and novels (stylized color), resulting in a concise, deep, and through exploration that neither hails or condemns its subject.

All aspects of the film production are exceptional. From the spot on performances of Ken Ogata (it is eerie how he physically captures the essence of Mishima) and the supporting cast, to the incredible & luxurious sets of Eiko Ishioka, and the atmospheric music of Philip Glass. There is much to admire within this film and if you haven't seen it, you should.

Warner has previously released this film on VHS and Laserdisc and now presents it on DVD. Surprisingly, this film with no audience, has a lot of amenities to make it a worthwhile purchase. Paul Schrader, the film's director, provides a thorough and insightful running commentary, further illuminating Yukio Mishima's life as well as chronicling the production. Additionally, the Japanese audio track features the original narration that was done by Ken Ogata. (When first released in Japan, his narration was replaced.) As for the picture, the transfer leaves a lot to be desired, appearing to be a rehash of the original laserdisc transfer. It's a shame that such a visually potent film lacks a proper transfer to DVD.

[On a odd note, in the original release Roy Scheider provided the narration to this film. However, despite a listing on the end credits, it appears that the narrator on this DVD is NOT Roy Scheider. I did an A/B comparison with the laserdisc and there is a distinct difference from the Laserdisc to the DVD. If anyone has any information on this oddity, I would be interested to hear from you.]

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Directed by Paul Schrader. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Made in 1985. Cost $4.5million to make, filmed entirely in Japanese with all Japanese actors, never released in Japan. Grossed $500,000. Beautiful film that tells three separate stories. One is a black and white re-telling of Mishima's life. Another is a color re-telling of Mishima's last day. And the third consists of three re-tellings of Mishima's novels. The novel re-tellings are shot like very elaborate stage plays in lavish colors and designed by Eiko Ishioka, who designed costumes for Dracula, The Cell, and the new Houston Rockets jersey.

Long story short, I bought this film sight unseen and I cannot stop thinking about it. The music haunts me (in a pleasant way), and the images and the ideas of Mishima have been playing in my mind. I had read two novels of Mishima's, so I was familiar with him and his work.

Here is a man, arguably the greatest postwar author Japan has had, who wrote 35 novels, over a dozen plays, several operas, a ballet, over 400 short stories and essays, directed and starred in a movie he wrote, and starred in a few more. And in 1970, at the age of 45, after creating his own army, committed suicide after a vein attempt to incite revolution in the Army. Oh, he was also a body builder.

Just like the deafness in Beethoven, it is the army building and suicide that everybody obsesses about when they study Mishima. It is true for the last decade of his life he tipped to the right in political views to the point of fervent fanaticism, but he still managed to balance his passion with his desire for beauty and existence. In the end he hoped to unify it all in one swift moment that is death.

Known to go out on the town or host cocktail parties with the who's who of Tokyo and the literary world of the 50's and 60's, Mishima never drank and rarely took to debauchery that personifies the tragic novelist. Instead he possessed a phenomenal work ethic. At 11:00pm, whether on the town, or the host of a party, people knew it was time for Mishima to head home, or for the party end. He had work to do.

Even while cramming for exams as a teenager, Mishima would stay up until dawn writing. His one passion at that age. And for the last twenty years of his life, at midnight, he would go to his study and write. No distractions, silence would guide his thoughts.

Most of this I got from reading a biography I just read of him, but the film touches upon it very nicely. And it is the quotes about his personal development that make some of the best lines from the film (in an optional English narration on the DVD.)

"Every night at precisely midnight I would return to my desk and write. I would analyze why I was attracted to a particular theme. I would boil it into abstraction until I was ready to put it down on the page." I think I just miss quoted (as I will again later), but I got it close enough. Even on the last night of his life he followed this work ethic. In his entire writing career, he never missed a deadline.

He was a weak kid. Pale, young looking for his age. Sheltered by his grandmother. His one release was writing. In a scene that was objected to by his widow, the film shows him at a gay bar. He is criticized by a man for being "flabby". This scene and the implied homosexuality resulted in his widow preventing the release if the film in Japan.

The following scene concludes with Mishima thinking: "All my life I had suffered under a monstrous sensitivity." And that, "What I lacked was a healthy body; a sense of self."

"I saw that beauty and ethics are one in the same. Creating a beautiful work of art and being beautiful oneself are inseparable"

Mishima took up body building in the mid 1950's and kept it up until the end of his life. Unlike the average tale of the forlorn, drunk, self-hating author, Mishima was obsessed with health and the prevention of the decay of the body.

The reputation of famous authors of Japan are that of chain smokers who drink and write. It is this lifestyle that gives them their writing will. I have found two Japanese authors who buck this trend. One is Mishima and the other is Murakami Haruki, who is in his fifties right now and is possibly the most popular author in contemporary Japan. He too follows a strict ethic of exercise and writing.

I will point out some other aspects of the film I find interesting. Apparently Lucas and Coppola were miffed that Yoko, Mishima's widow, would only allow scenes that were documented as happening. Seems fair to me when making a biopic. All quotes in the movie spoken by Mishima are actual words Mishima wrote.

Though one issue I do have is that Ogata Ken, the actor who plays Mishima, doesn't really look like him. Mishima was just more handsome. His face was tough, but the eyes were the eyes of a poet. And he was more muscular for the last 15 years of his life. But considering the controversial nature of Mishima and his reputation, it was hard to find an actor as willing as Ogata, so I should not be so upset.

Plus Paul Schrader made a comentary track for the DVD release that is full of good tidbits.

1-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful things they are my enemies
Perhaps Paul Schraeder should have kept Mishima's words in mind when he wrote and directed this disaster of an art movie.

The central concept of the movie is an abomination. Imagine telling the life of Shakespeare, or any other writer, by intercuting three of his plays or books into his life-story? Imagine 15 minutes being given each to Richard III, The Merchant of Venice and Midsummer Night's Dream. Each of Mishima's books highlighted in the movie is a full work of art in their own right. To shoehorn them into this movie is a travesty. To try to use them to tell Mishima's story is weak storytelling. To hide it in glitsy visuals is even worse. It almost works in the Runaway Horses section, but by that time, we have been bored into submission and any morsel of entertainment is gladly welcome.

I had heard so much about the wonderfully stylised sets but they looked like a school play, with the acting in the Golden Pavillion segment at almost at the same level. Each of the book sections has zero character development and we have very little idea why the characters are motivated. This is compounded by the strange choice to film the book sequences in Japanese -- they could easily have been done in English. Arty talk may sound good, but it is empty of meaning when taken out of context. Shrader seems to mistake art for a good story and Mishima was popular primarily because he was a good storyteller.

Ken Ogata is miscast -- he looks nothing like Mishima whatsover and is too old for the role. The actor who was the lead in the Runaway Horses section looks much more like Mishima. Mishima's character suffers from lack of character development. We see what he does but there is very little explanation of his motivation. The flashbacks skim over his life and give no insight. We never see him interact with anyone in a meaningful way. We never see any challenges he faced. There is a total lack of dramatic tension because his character have not been built up. Shrader says on the commentary that Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Mishima are similar characters but then he lets us think that Mishima acts the way he does because he is Japanese.

Roy Shneider or not, the narration is a joke. I almost laughed out loud when I heard it. Why is an AMERICAN doing the voiceover? It looks and sounds ridiculous and completely jars with the visuals. When I first started watching I mistakenly had the narration off and was reading the English subtitles -- much better. The tone of the narrator was enough to send anyone to sleep. And the words, even though they are Mishima's, are preposterous in the context of a movie. The whole thing plods along at such a tedious pace, not helped by the score, which like all Philp Glass, sounds pretty but has no tension.

If you like pretty colors then perhaps you can forgive the book sequences, but the use of black and white is misleading as many of the events depicted are close to the last day (for example the parade on the roof of the National Theater). The "documentary style" of the last day looks cheap, forced and is not dynamic enough for the material. The filmmakers can't even make a hostage taking look interesting.

The DVD extras include a "making of" that must be all of five minutes long that adds nothing to our understanding of Mishima or of the movie.

All in all a missed opportunity to understand of one of the most intriguing writers of the 20th century.

4-0 out of 5 stars A revealing film
It struck me whilst watching Mishima that the film has a very clear, but perhaps unintentional, interpretation of his behaviour in his final years. Mishima's decision to re-focus his life away from what he came to see as an artificial world of words to the real world of action and was, in fact, simply replacing one artistic activity with another. His final actions were performance art. Assesed objectively they served no genuine policital or social purpose at all. A film worth watching for anybody interested in Mishima's work or Japanese culture. ... Read more


3. The Ballad of Narayama
Director: Shohei Imamura
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6302969565
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 15352
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Description

A century ago in a remote mountain village, it was the custom that when people reached 70 years of age, they were taken to Mount Narayama to die.The Ballad of Narayama is the story of one elderly woman's preparation for her final journey.From the powerful use of imagery to the final thrilling climax, Shohei Imamura (Black Rain) delivers a triumphant and beautiful film as universal as the seasonal changes which bookend the story itself. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars An eternal winner
This film is powerful and stunning.It deals with the question about how to deal with the human being when he is arrived to the golden age.
The movie shows no mercy about that. The rules are very clear.when you are seventy ,you must go to Narayama.
We live in a world that avoids talking about this point.
James Hillman in an interview talks about the fact that in our process of growing up we do not want understand that to get it,we must lose things to reach it, and this is unboreable for many of us because we are accostumed to win always.
Watch a film called the sudden loneliness of Konrad Steiner from the swiss filmmaker Kurt Gloor, 1976 and then return to Narayama. Two different gazes, but basically facing the same question.
Since I was seventeen I read a thought from an italian writer-Giovanni Papini- who said:
Will I have to remember that the time is like an army of no shoes army who spies behind the door of every day of our life ,making us less strongs and much weaker?
Imamura is among that selected elite integrated by Mizoguchi, Kusorawa, Kinugasa, Ichikawa,Ozu.
He is the most prolific,original and best gifted director of the Japanese cinema.We expect much more about him,Watch also the eel, Black rain and Eijanaika and you will understand why he is so beloved in Cannes, Berlin and another important festivals all around the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Ballad of Narayama is now one of my favorite films.
The Ballad of Narayama is about the harsh realities of life in an impoverished Japanese village in the late eighteen hundreds. Sound boring? It's anything but. Sound depressing? Much of it is, but the overwhelming power of the film left my heart full rather than heavy. If you're looking for an incredibly well made film - brilliantly written, acted, filmed and directed - start here. You'll be glad you did.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting character study of a poor community
The story of a small mountain village whose inhabitants must struggle to eke out their meager living. Theft is not tolerated, and the old are left on a mountaintop to die from exposure. This is a fascinating portrayal of how people are sometimes forced by their circumstances to be as merciless as nature itself. It is easy to condemn many of the practices seen in this film, but we are forced to wonder how we might behave if we were similarly deprived. To what extent is our ethics a product of our relatively luxurious lifestyle? It is also interesting to see how various characters face their conditions--some retain their dignity and humanity, while others display what is most ugly and base in human nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Imamura's Humanism
Shohei Imamura did something astonishing with his film 'The Ballad of Narayama.' Not only did he attempt to update a popular Japanese legend, he was creating an alternate version of the established classic, made by Keisuke Kinoshita [see Twenty Four Eyes] at the height of his powers. Reverence for the aged is a hallmark of Japanese society, so the ancient tradition of mountain people of exposing their no-longer productive relations on a mountaintop to die is very shocking to the Japanese. Kinoshita addressed the legend in a very stylized way, distancing the viewer from the action and thereby making the actions of these poor people somehow less terrible. Imamura, in stark contrast, emphasized the savagery of the traditional mountain society by parallelling it with the savagery of the natural world in which it, too, must survive. Imamura thereby makes the tradition seem somewhat inevitable and all the more moving because of its inexorability. These people aren't inhuman savages. They are survivors in a harsh environment. Imamura examines character so honestly that the people he depicts are revealed in their true humanity, and their actions are shown to be all the more tragic. A triumph for Imamura.

5-0 out of 5 stars a graphic portrayal of death and life
Being an American I am not used to seeing stinky young men having sex with dogs/old women on the movie screen and never before have I seen an elderly woman knock her teeth out voluntarily. One could say that this movie is serious in light of the fact that it's focus is on how people deal with death, but beyond that I found this film absolutely hilarious, I highly recommend it. Once you've seen it and if you can't say you laughed at it, you're not understanding it. ... Read more


4. Vengeance Is Mine
Director: Shohei Imamura
list price: $29.95
our price: $29.95
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Asin: 6303386725
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Description

For his chilling portrait of a serial killer, master director Shohei Imamura enters a world where impulse is reason enough for grisly murder.Based on police records and the prize-winning book by Ryuzo Saki, Vengeance Is Mine chronicles the terrifying crime spree of Iwao Enokizu.Actor Ken Ogata delivers a compelling character study. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars On many complexities of the human soul...
In the beginning of Vengeance, there is a key scene of the film's main character. He is unrinating, in order to wash his hands off the blood of his victim. He then notices he's under a tree, wipes his hands with his jacket and picks an apple. He takes a bite and spits.

However, the point -we understand as the story unfolds engrossingly to contain many other characters in similarly true moments- is in fact to lay bare the human soul.

Immamura achieves very successfuly this main objective, through his immense storytelling powers: the over the top performances he pulls from his superb cast and his brilliant melding of the many subplots.(The editing here, in my opinion, is one the best works ever done in a movie.)

In a little over two hours, Vengeance speaks volumes about the many complexities of the human soul and offers many opportunities to confront its dark side. Thus, it is not an easy movie to watch. Yet it offers many insights to the Japanese culture, and is a great point to start knowing the Japanese cinema as well. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars gripping from start to finish
In this highly ambiguous tale of moral uncertainty--both in terms of the killer himself and all those around him (his father, his wife, his lover and her mother), Imamura is at the top of his game. I saw this film at a film festival in Berkeley the first time and it haunted me for a long long time. The commentary on the back cover of the VHS says it best "Imamura's refusal to either despise or forgive his protagonist makes the movie a devestating experience."

5-0 out of 5 stars REVEALING LOOK AT A COLD BLOODED MURDERER
Imamura constucts a telling portrait of an impassive sociopath. The pacing is purposefully slow and minimal, giving the killer character ample room to reveal himself while both doing the simplest things and, especially, when interacting with those around him. This film is the higher brained cousin of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

I think its important to note that the killer in Vengeance is Mine, is by no means a serial killer. I've heard him described as that, and its a misinformed judgement. A serial killers pathology revolves around sex. In this film, the killer murders out of a distance, a coldness for human life. He kills for money, shelter, for survival, having little care (although he does try) for anyones life but his own. ... Read more


5. Eijanaika
Director: Shohei Imamura
list price: $24.95
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Asin: 6301696867
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars OK
A recreation of the actual historic events of the French Revolution, from the elegance of the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, to the fall of the Bastille in 1789, to the defeat of the mighty Prussian Infantry by a unified nation. The film follows the adventures of two young patriots. ... Read more


6. Samurai Banners
Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
list price: $9.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565672712
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Heaven and Earth
There is a better, newer movie about this famous battle called:
Heaven and Earth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good War Epic
I liked this movie a lot. It may not have the depth of a Kurosawa samurai epic. But the film's director, Hiroshi Inagaki was no slouch. Anyone who's seen his other movies (Chushingura, Samurai Trilogy, just to name a few) knows he's very adept at handling sweeping dramas with large casts of characters.

The Japanese title of this movie is Furinkazan which refers to the Kanji characters on the banner flown by the Takeda clan. It describes the military strategy of the clan's leader, Shingen - swift as the wind (fu), quiet as a forest (rin), aggressive like fire (ka), and stable like a mountain (zan). I guess that's a little too much to put in an English title!

The battle scenes in this movie are pretty good. But I also liked the story of unrequitted love involving two of the main characters, Kansuke Yamamoto and Princess Yu. Toshiro Mifune plays Kansuke, an actual historical figure who was a military strategist for the Takeda clan. Yoshiko Sakuma gives a spirited performance as the beautiful and sometimes feisty princess. Some Western viewers may find the movie's love story a little strange since there are no open declarations of affection, and no hugging and kissing. This is a typical old-fashioned Japanese romance.

The movie reaches its climax at Kawanakajima, the scene of one of the most famous battles in Japanese history. It was there that Kansuke made a huge military blunder that nearly spelled doom for the Takeda clan.

If you like epic war dramas with a little romance thrown in, then you might want to give this movie a try.

3-0 out of 5 stars No match for kurosawa, but quiet a good one
Well-structured, a rather interesting storyline and well-choreographed battlescenes: these are the main strengths of this epic. On the other hand, you have some little-enthusiastic actors, playing their boring part in a sometimes even more boring way, except the great Toshiro Mifune, of course. However, he sometimes seems a little lost, as if being at the wrong place, waisting his energy while trying to bring on his one-man-show. All this makes the movie lack a certain deepness of the caracters, destroying any approach to a real, memorial warlord-saga. The comparison with Kurosawa's "Kagemusha" seems to be a little unfair, but you gotta pay some respects to Mifune's and Inagaki's efforts, however. Perhaps a "must see" for every Samuraifan, but none for anyone else.

4-0 out of 5 stars A John Ford-ish Japanese historical epic.
If anybody not to enjoy bluffs of acrobatic samurai-ninja messacre, this is the very choice. The classic example of relationship between great commander and thoughtful lieutenant (probably comparable to that of MacArther and Ike! ). The story is based on the earlier life of the Great Takeda Shinken, whose reputation is far above Tokugawa and Toyotomi even today. Takeda and his best warrior, Gen. Yamamoto Kansuke(Toshiro Mifune)'s struggle to empower the clan among numerous medieval lordships is well illustrated. Takashi Shimura(A Kurosawa's favorite, in Seven Samurai and Ikiru)'s performance is superb, costumes and music is very well-organized as if the shot was located in real medieval Japan. Not only good documentary for understanding the aura and sprit of Japanese warlords, but also comparable text to classic hollywood western genre in terms of stereotyped masculinity. If somebody eager for the sequel to this film, Kurosawa's 'Kagemusha' might be the right stuff. A MUST ONE! ... Read more


7. Virus
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
list price: $12.99
our price: $12.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6303052606
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 52629
Average Customer Review: 1 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars If you LIKED this film, DON'T buy this video!
I only gave this VIDEO one star, but I'd give the FILM 4 stars. I really like this film, in spite of some of the implausable ideas like a single person being able to arm our nuclear arsenal. However, this particular video being sold (which I bought and have just now viewed) is MASSACRED! It looks & sounds like someone set up a camcorder in their living room & taped the movie off their TV. The sound is TERRIBLE, the framing cuts off any captions & subtitles, and, to add insult to injury, they CUT OUT the last 10 minutes of the film showing the journey back to the survivors in Antartica -- it ends with the world being destroyed by the nuclear explosions! Shame on whoever did this! Now I have to go try to buy a used Beta machine on eBay so I can watch my old Beta tape of this movie! ... Read more


8. Samurai Reincarnation
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
list price: $9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6304396244
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 69830
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Iga Ninja vs. Rock-Ridge
This film is an essential purchase for all Chiba fans. Most of the cast of this film also starred in 'Ninja Wars'....the English overdubs were highly amusing(they just changed the voices around!!) Story: a homosexual samurai is brought back from the dead, rejects Christianity, worships Satan, gets a possé of suicidal sword-masters, goes on the rampage.....its the same as all the others, however, it a cross between Ninja Wars and that [terrible] Gunslinger flick with Sharon Stone in it. Sonny Chiba is Jubei and the son of a minor noble who succumbs to the [samurai's] magick. Chiba kills all of the possé exept the monk-alcoholic who has fantisies of killing women. The film must have been cut. Only buy this on DVD 'cos the American VHS version had the picture quality of a thrice-pirated '70's porno!!!! ...

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good despite a terrible dub
I thought at first this was filmed for the asian TV market because of the obvious set design and film quality at the beginning(reminiscent of Dark Shadows). However, the film slowly builds in pace and scope until it's climax: a duel in an inferno, the burning remains of the mansion of the shogun. It is easily up to the par of the low budget asian action movies of the period. The mythology of the film is quite interesting, both in the time period it is placed and the characters that are included. The samurai that Toshiro Mifune brought to western audiences, Musashi Miyamoto, plays a key part. The only significant flaw to this film is the previously mentioned dub. Not only are the voices not timed properly but almost all the voice actors are VERY poorly chosen and seemingly refuse to emote with their characters. There are some moments with dramatic overacting but anyone seeking information on a film titled Samurai Reincarnation shouldn't be seeking subtlety. Also of note, many of the key players of this film including Sonny Chiba and the Director himself were involved in the film The Legend of the Eight Samurai, a film much like this one with similar qualities and flaws(including the dub).

5-0 out of 5 stars If you like japanese swords you will like this film
Very good plot. Very good action . Very entertaining. I saw this film in a theatre.I am buying it now in video.Unfortunately i dont know if this version have english subtitles.However there is a version dubbed in English The hero is not of the family Yagiu and Chiba is Jubei.It is difficult to tell if his Tsuba(gard) is an Yagiu tsuba.In any case as you know he never used the Tsuba.Very good swordsman ... Read more


9. Gonin 2
Director: Takashi Ishii
list price: $4.99
our price: $4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00005U16P
Catlog: Video
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Definately not a real sequel
Gonin 2. Definately not a sequel to the first one(there really couldn't be anyway), not nearly as good, but not a total dissapointment.

This one's more of a traditional movie. An old man(Ken Ogata from Mishima and the Pillow Book) looks for revenge after Yakuza hoods raped and killed his wife. A group of makeshift, female Jewelry Store robbers [anger] the Yakuza after fumbling their heist and get the old man's attention after they steal the ring he wanted to purchase for his dead wife. Then, worlds colide as they all run into each other blasting and chopping away.

The character developement is poor and the Yakuza are as stereotypical as they get. There is some good dialogue betweeen the female robbers, charming stuff at times, but it's minimal.

There's some cool stuff. The old man makes his own sword in order to get his revenge. So, sword in hand, he goes around chopping up yakuza looking like the bad guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer. Pretty cool considering it's Ken Ogata.

Then there's some bizare stuff involving te dead wife...I won't spoil it for you, but if you don't want to see a movie a step down and more B-movieish than the first Gonin, this one may not be for you. It's more action than anything and it's a hell of a lot simpler and more generic. Something you wouldn't be surprised to see on Cinemax at 2 in the morning, but Japanese and starring the guy from Mishima. Only in the mighty Nippon! ... Read more


10. Samurai Reincarnation
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
list price: $19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 6304396201
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 63689
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Iga Ninja vs. Rock-Ridge
This film is an essential purchase for all Chiba fans. Most of the cast of this film also starred in 'Ninja Wars'....the English overdubs were highly amusing(they just changed the voices around!!) Story: a homosexual samurai is brought back from the dead, rejects Christianity, worships Satan, gets a possé of suicidal sword-masters, goes on the rampage.....its the same as all the others, however, it a cross between Ninja Wars and that [terrible] Gunslinger flick with Sharon Stone in it. Sonny Chiba is Jubei and the son of a minor noble who succumbs to the [samurai's] magick. Chiba kills all of the possé exept the monk-alcoholic who has fantisies of killing women. The film must have been cut. Only buy this on DVD 'cos the American VHS version had the picture quality of a thrice-pirated '70's porno!!!! ...

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good despite a terrible dub
I thought at first this was filmed for the asian TV market because of the obvious set design and film quality at the beginning(reminiscent of Dark Shadows). However, the film slowly builds in pace and scope until it's climax: a duel in an inferno, the burning remains of the mansion of the shogun. It is easily up to the par of the low budget asian action movies of the period. The mythology of the film is quite interesting, both in the time period it is placed and the characters that are included. The samurai that Toshiro Mifune brought to western audiences, Musashi Miyamoto, plays a key part. The only significant flaw to this film is the previously mentioned dub. Not only are the voices not timed properly but almost all the voice actors are VERY poorly chosen and seemingly refuse to emote with their characters. There are some moments with dramatic overacting but anyone seeking information on a film titled Samurai Reincarnation shouldn't be seeking subtlety. Also of note, many of the key players of this film including Sonny Chiba and the Director himself were involved in the film The Legend of the Eight Samurai, a film much like this one with similar qualities and flaws(including the dub).

5-0 out of 5 stars If you like japanese swords you will like this film
Very good plot. Very good action . Very entertaining. I saw this film in a theatre.I am buying it now in video.Unfortunately i dont know if this version have english subtitles.However there is a version dubbed in English The hero is not of the family Yagiu and Chiba is Jubei.It is difficult to tell if his Tsuba(gard) is an Yagiu tsuba.In any case as you know he never used the Tsuba.Very good swordsman ... Read more


11. Peacock King
Director: Ngai Kai Lam, Biao Yuen
list price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000009HFR
Catlog: Video
Sales Rank: 119583
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars For those of you who care about THIS movie and not the anime
This moive is about Hell Virgin trying to take over the world. Full of dragons, magic, and Yuen Biao plays the peacock king he's cool. There is very cool animation in this. ... Read more


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