Kurosawa’s first film was such a success that the studio leaned on the director to make a sequel. The result is a hugely entertaining adventure, reuniting most of the major players from the original and featuring a two-part narrative in which Sanshiro first fights a pair of Americans and then finds himself the target of a revenge mission undertaken by the brothers of the original film’s villain. —The Criterion Collection
The son of an army officer, Kurosawa studied art before gravitating to film as a means of supporting himself. He served seven years as an assistant to director Kajiro Yamamoto before he began his own directorial career with Sanshiro Sugata (1943), a film about the 19th century struggle for supremacy between adherents of judo and jujitsu that so impressed the military government, he was prevailed upon to make a sequel (Sanshiro Sugata Part Two). Following the end of World War II, Kurosawa’s career gathered speed with a series of films that cut across all genres, from crime thrillers to period dramas. Among the latter, his Rashomon (1951) became the first postwar Japanese film to find wide favor with Western audiences. It was Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), however, that made the largest impact of any of his movies outside of Japan. Although heavily cut for its original release, this three-hour-plus medieval action drama, shot with painstaking… read more
Could be interpreted as a propagandistic cautionary tale about the pernicious influence of western culture (keep in mind when this film was made). In the film, westerners are portrayed as coarse, loud, and aggressive. They enjoy boxing, a spectator sport in which "they let men fight like dogs or roosters." Compare this to Sugata, who dresses traditionally, practices judo, and is comparatively calm and reserved.
Poor propaganda film that's as mediocre as a Kurosawa film can get with an extremely unsatisfying ending and some of the worst villains ever in a jidai-geki. Where the first and last fighting scenes of the first part were about as unconventional as could be, the opening and ending scenes of part II are just plain boring in their conventional long shot to medium shot cutting.
The concept behind the box is simplicity itself, exemplified by its title: "25 Films By Akira Kurosawa." This is released in commemoration