DVD Title
Samurai Assassin
International Title
Samurai Assassin
DVD Length Original Length
123 Minutes 123 Minutes
Company Year of Manufacture
AnimEigo 2005
Language Subtitles
Japanese English
Region Number of Discs
1 1
Aspect Ratio Sound
2.35:1 [Crop] (Anamorphic) 1.0 Mono
Menus (English)
Chapters (16)
Trailers: Samurai Assassin, Incident at Blood Pass, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell, Zatoichi the Outlaw, Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, Lady Snowblood, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance
Program Notes (English)
Character Biographies

What a stab in the back this release is. AnimEigo, a company that at one time was known for their attention to video quality, will now go down in history as having one of the worst looking Toho DVDs on the market. To make matters worse, the audio presentation is completely lackluster as well, while the extras are nothing more than the standard, and unenticing, fare one has come to associate with the company.


To be blunt: the video presentation on this disc is simply awful. Nothing works here, and nearly every aspect is heavily flawed. Although the biggest problem is simply that the print looks very hazy, with hardly any sharpness to it; in fact, it looks as if the source for the transfer was re-recorded with cassette tapes numerous times until the quality rapidly declined. AnimEigo attempted to correct the problems with their source material by upping the edge enhancement a great deal to get some sort of detail from the film, but in the process only made the situation worse as most things have faintly noticeably halos around them. By all accounts, this looks more like a poorly done bootleg then a licensed release, with the only genuine praise that I can give is that I have seen worse.

To add insult to injury, the aspect ratio is even messed up on this disc. According to the package, the film is shown in a 2.35:1 ratio, but this transfer has clearly been cropped. This is noticeable for most of the film, with the cinematography looking off, but is blatant during the main title when the name and time code drift off screen. On the bright side, at least it's Anamorphic for widescreen TVs.

 Audio: Star Rating

The audio presentation here fares much better than the video, but that's not saying much. For this disc, AnimEigo has included a 1.0 mono track of the film. Due to the one channel presentation, the movie sounds very flat, and of course no speaker distinction is possible. Otherwise, it sounds good with most of the dialogue sounding clear while there are no pops or crackles to be heard.

The audio can be accompanied by, removable, English subtitles. Like other AnimEigo discs, the subtitles are color coded to make it easy to tell when multiple characters are speaking in the same scene. The subtitles are available in two types: a general one and one that only subtitles onscreen Japanese text.

 Extras: Star Rating

With the film getting such a shabby presentation, one would hope that this disc would be complemented by a wealth of extras to make up for it. But, alas, this is AnimEigo, and such hopes are quickly dashed. I would like to think that the company was at least aware that they should do something to try and compensate for the movie quality, as this title does have the largest selection of trailers of any of the AnimEigo disc. However, it's a very poor substitute for added content when all of these trailers can be found on numerous other discs from the company (Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance appears so often on these DVDs that it's almost humorous at this point). It's also disheartening to see the Samurai Assassin trailer in general, as it's in much better shape than the movie itself here.

The other extras found on this release are all text based, which include filmographies, character biographies, and the AnimEigo's trademark program notes. All of these are pretty ho-hum though, unless one has a deep fascination with Japan's feudal history, in which case the 59 screen program notes would likely prove rather interesting.

 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, AnimEigo has hit an all time low here. Even considering the critical acclaim of the movie, it's extremely hard to suggest purchasing this DVD to anyone. Given the quality of the disc, or lack there of, one would have hoped for the company to at least cut the consumer some slack with the price, but no such luck as this retails for a cutthroat $30.

This disc is also featured in the box set: Toshiro Mifune: The Ultimate Collection.

- Anthony Romero  
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