DVD Title
International Title
Movie Length: 96 minutes Original Length: 96 minutes
Company: Criterion Release: 1999
Aspect Ratio: 2.05:1 Anamorphic: No
Region: 1Discs: 1
Language/Sound: Order
Japanese (1.0 Mono)
· Menus (English)
· Chapters (24)
· Trailers: Sanjuro
Anthony Romero

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 any extras.

 Video: Star Rating

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 2007 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.

 Audio: Star Rating

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.

 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom 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.