Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Review: Sanshiro Sugata, Part II

As I've mentioned previously [1], I tried watching Sanshiro Sugata, Part I at BYU, but fell asleep. I put it in my Netflix queue but never bothered putting it at the top of the list. You could look up Part II, but it was unavailable, so I put it in my "saved videos". Suddenly Sanshiro Sugata Part II (Japanese: 續姿三四郎) became available. Since I've seen videos which appeal to a narrow audience, such as these, disappear again from Netflix in a very short time, I wasted no time in queuing them both up.

Part II opens with a fight between Sanshiro Sugata and a loud, angry American sailor. Sanshiro wins by tossing the American sailor into a canal. As with the scene this mirrors, the American never resurfaces. As a result of this altercation, Sanshiro Sugata is forced to delve deeper into the philosophies that underlie judo. Where the first film lauded the superiority of judo over jujitsu, this one pits judo against the martial arts of karate and Western boxing.

My verdict: Some of the acting is reminiscent of acting during the silent era of film. This is particularly surprising given that I didn't notice this about the acting in Part I which featured many of the same actors. The moral of this movie was both less overt and less universal than the moral of the first movie, though they do parallel in the final scene: where the ending of Part I featured a duel on a windy hillside, Part II features a duel on a snow-covered hillside.[2] Overall I'd say that Sanshiro Sugata Part II wasn't quite as good as Part I, but watching them both has been a better experience than some of the other early films of directors I enjoy.[3]


[1] See here.

[2] And Sanshiro Sugata chooses to be barefoot!

[3] e.g. David Lean (In Which We Serve), Steven Spielberg (The Sugarland Express), George Lucas (1:42.08 and 6-18-67), and Zhang Yimou (To Live).

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