After two solid entries, the Samurai trilogy kinda peters out with this long-winded tale of how Miyamoto Musashi (Toshiro Mifune) finally gets around to dueling his arch-nemesis Kojiro Sasaki (Koji Tsuruta) to the death. Sadly you got to sit through a lot of substandard romance and interminable chivalrous clichés to get to it.
Although the flick is lushly photographed (it looks like friggin’ Gone with the Wind with samurai swords), it often gets bogged down in a lot of melodramatic crap that the previous films somehow managed to avoid. While the deliberate pacing of the other movies routinely paid off with a modicum of swordfights, this one is curiously slack in the action department. The final battle LOOKS impressive (Love that sunset!) but it’s kind of a lackluster finale, especially when you consider you’ve been waiting two movies to see it.
Mifune commands your attention at all times as per usual, but everyone else involved (both in front of and behind the camera) seems to just be going through the motions. Even the attempts at “action” fall flat and the subplot about the bandits raiding some farmer’s home was lifted from The Seven Samurai.
If you’ve seen the other two Samurai movies, you’ll want to see how everything pans out, but on it’s own terms, Samurai 3 just doesn’t have enough sword slinging action to make it worthwhile.
AKA: Bushido. AKA: Duel on