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Movie Review - Samurai Banners

by Nancy Beckerman

Samurai Banners

Starring and produced by Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune may be the most famous Japanese actor of his time, having made innumerable movies, most of which are about Samurai; this particular film was made in 1969. Mifune also starred in the very famous films The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Yojimbo; these are all great movies, but for students of karate they hold special interest. The actor also worked with legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

Samurai Banners is based on a real life Samurai, Yamamoto Kansuke, who is played, of course, splendidly, by Mifune. The film takes place in the 1500s and is very historic, with breathtaking scenery and costumes. While the film is on the long side (almost 3 hours), it is well worth watching.

In this film, Mifune continues to develop his iconic archetype of the "roving warrior" which has been imitated by many other actors, including Clint Eastwood.

Although this film is mainly concerned with battles between two clans, it includes a love triangle as well. Mifune's character, Yamamoto, joins and becomes a trusted general for the powerful Takeda clan and he plans and participates in several victorious campaigns. One of these involves the murder of a warlord whose daughter becomes the love interest in the film. Yamamoto (Mifune) falls in love with the princess, but his warlord, Takeda, takes her for his concubine.

In order to avoid "spoilers" I will not give the plot away, but this is certainly a movie that I recommend to everyone. The melodrama only serves to remind us of times gone by.