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Mifune: The Last Samurai (2015)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 25 November 2016 (USA)
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A feature-length documentary about the life and films of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, weaving together film clips, archival stills, and interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Narrated by Keanu Reeves.

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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Wataru Akashi ...
Himself
...
Herself
Takeshi Katô ...
Himself
Hisao Kurosawa ...
Himself
Shirô Mifune ...
Himself
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(archive footage)
...
Himself
Sadao Nakajima ...
Himself
Yôsuke Natsuki ...
Himself
Terumi Niki ...
Herself
Teruyo Nogami ...
Herself
...
Narrator
Tadao Sato ...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
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Storyline

A feature-length documentary about the life and films of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, weaving together film clips, archival stills, and interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Narrated by Keanu Reeves.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

25 November 2016 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mifune: Last Samurai  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,296, 25 November 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$61,691, 24 February 2017
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hisao Kurosawa helped make this documentary. He is the son of legendary director Akira Kurosawa, who often collaborated with Toshirô Mifune. See more »

Soundtracks

Rockabilly Kenpoh
Performed by Hibari Misora
Music & lyrics by Masao Yoneyama
Courtesy of Columbia Songs, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Missed opportunity
20 June 2017 | by See all my reviews

I waited anxiously to watch Steven Okazaki's documentary about the greatest Japanese actor of the twentieth century, Toshiro Mifune. It had all the elements and resources to be excellent. Okazaki had the rare privilege of interviewing the eldest sons of both Mifune and Kurosawa, as well as actors and actresses who worked with Mifune. He had access to TOHO's archives and Kurosawa's and Mifune's families private collection. Spielberg and Scorsese gave testimonials about the influence of the actor in American cinema. And with all that, I was utterly disappointed with it.

The documentary clocks in under 80 minutes to tell the story of an actor who made hundreds of films and influenced a century of different generations of actors from around the world. The testimonials are superficial, precious sources are wasted and long minutes are spent on side stories that have nothing to do with Mifune. Of the actor's eighteen films with Kurosawa, Okazaki chose four or five to detail and nothing was said that has not already been known to exhaustion by any movie buff. Even the chosen scenes are wrong. When the subject is Rashōmon or Shichinin no Samurai, no spoken scenes are shown, of Mifune. None. When we get to Kumonosu-jō, a whole sequence is spent for a supporting actor to reminisce of his own scene, and another one is to let us know that the extraordinary arrows scene was filmed without Kurosawa having made any life insurance for the actors. Very interesting. As detail. But nothing more is said about this exquisite work by Mifune and Isuzu Yamada. Actresses such as Kyôko Kagawa and Yôko Tsukasa, who worked several times with Mifune and could have told fantastic stories of both his creative process and his idiosyncrasies, remained in the shallow, in the anecdote. Director's fault.

It is remembered that "The Magnificent Seven" is a remake of Shichinin no Samurai and that "A Fistful of Dollars" is a remake of Yojimbo. But not a word is said about "The Outrage," directed by Martin Ritt in 1964, being a remake of Rashōmon with Paul Newman and Claire Bloom. No new insight into Mifune and Kurosawa's breakup. And once the partnership is over, Okazaki rushes it to the end, even though Mifune had at least twenty years of active life in films and television after his last work with Kurosawa.

For the nerd audience, George Lucas is an unforgivable (and inexplicable) absence, since it is known and confirmed the influence that Kakushi-toride no san-akunin, of 1958, had on the whole conception of the Star Wars saga. Also known is the fact that Mifune was asked to play Obi-Wan Kenobi and turned it down on the advice of his dorky business manager. It is said in Star Wars trivia that even Darth Vader's helmet was based on Mifune's helmets in his samurai films.

Moreover, not a single Mifune interview. No TV shows, no attendance at awards or events. Mifune was a withdrawn and private man. It would have been invaluable to see him talk about his own life and career. Deconstruct the myth and show his humanity. The director should have panned out every scene in which Mifune offered a piece to help unravel the puzzle of his personality. As it was edited, the documentary is about an eighteenth-century figure. There are no voice records, there are no quotes or statements.

It's a pity.


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