Following on the heels of the company's first
release of Yojimbo,
comes this early Toho DVD for the second Sanjuro
movie. Unfortunately, this release doesn't fare
very well in retrospect by how far the medium
has come, as it features a lackluster video and
audio presentation while also containing hardly
While it couldn't be said that the video quality
here is one of the company's weakest efforts,
certainly not with the state of the Samurai trilogy
on DVD, it can be stated the quality is severally
lacking by today's standards. The most notable
flaw, though, is not one related to the transfer
process itself, but the source used. Despite what
the cover claims, the video track on this release
is far from the touted 2.35:1 aspect ratio. In
fact, it's closer to a 2.05:1, possibly even lower.
This becomes painfully obvious on the title
sequence, as the lettering literally drifts
off the screen.
The aspect ratio aside, the image also looks
very soft here, without a sharp degree of detail
present. Something that was likely made even worse
by the fact that the disc was not anamorphic,
forcing for a lot of needless compression. Consequently,
the difference between this release and the 2007
version are night and day. For example, take this
still from the 1999
release compared to the same scene from the
DVD. As for the shape of the print used for
the transfer, it also has some noticeable spots
where damage, such as heavy scratching, is apparent.
It's not something that's a problem throughout
the movie's duration, far from it, but it does
rear its ugly head during a few scenes.
There is only one audio track included with
this release, which is a single channel presentation
of the movie in its original Japanese. In terms
of the quality, the track isn't perfect, but it
gets the job done with all of the dialogue being
easily recognizable while there are no overt pops
or crackles. Unfortunately, the movie's original
stereo audio is no where to be found here.
The included track can be accompanied with, removable,
English subtitles. It's unfortunate, though, that
the company didn't place a great deal of care
in the translations, unlike prior and, certainly,
later releases. Overall, the subtitles could have
used an additional proof reading, case in point
""No enough guards". To be fair,
though, it's not nearly bad enough to detract
from the viewing experience very much.
The only extra to be found on this DVD is
a theatrical trailer for the movie. Sadly, like
the company's early Yojimbo
DVD, the advert is horribly compressed, looking
very soft in terms of detail.
line, even in its day this release was a little
iffy, but by today's standards it's a fairly poor
DVD. Thankfully, the company revisited the title
in 2007, giving the movie a release much more
fitting to the production.
This disc is also featured in the box set: Akira
Kurosawa Four Samurai Classics.