SANSHIRO SUGATA PART TWO

(aka : Sugata Sanshiro Zoku.  Non-literal US Title: Judo Saga Part Two)
(1945 - Japan)
With Susumu Fujita, Denjiro Okochi, Ryunosuke Tsukigata, Kokuten Kodo, Akitake Kono
Written and Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

Lost art of the three-way staring contest     Akira Kurosawa admitted in his autobiography that he didn't put his full effort into SANSHIRO SUGATA PART TWO, a film he was pressured into making by the Japanese government.  Filmed and edited much like any standard Hollywood production, SANSHIRO SUGATA PART TWO is often written off as one of the least valuable films in the Kurosawa canon.  Yet, although dull in parts, SANSHIRO SUGATA PART TWO is a competently made bit of propaganda  with some points of interest.

     Take for example the match between jujitsu master Sanshiro and an American boxer.  Kurosawa is known for his long takes and distinctive style of editing, yet, out of boredom perhaps, Kurosawa edits the match in a standard Hollywood way, as a series of quick cuts that follow the action.  And he pulls it off beautifully, showing how much he had learned from American films even as he would go on to be a director with his own non-Hollywood way of shooting movies..

     Susumu Fujita once again stars as the title character.  In hindsight it seems unfortunate that he didn't continue his career with Kurosawa  thanks to the director's discovery Toshiro Mifune who would become the director's leading man until 1965. Interestingly, Fujita often rubs his head in this film, a later Mifune trait that would emerge in such classics as SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO.  An actor with a powerful screen presence who was capable of projecting subtle emotions with the smallest of movements, Fujita deserves a place of honor in this site's Kurosawa Stock Company Hall of Fame2½ - JB

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