Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 10th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1981
Director: Shusei Kotani
Writer: William Overgard
Cast: Richard Boone, Toshirô Mifune, Sonny Chiba, Laura Gemser
DVD released: December 17th, 2002
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4.3 Pan & Scan
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Wellspring
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
America and Japan are about to sign a treaty that will allow western influences their first access into feudal Japan that has rarely been seen by foreigners. The Japanese emperor as to finalize the deal wants to give the America president the famed Bushido Blade. His plans are foiled when some old school Japanese who don’t want to see their homeland modernized steal the Bushido Blade. Which leads to the treaty being put on hold until the sword can be recovered. Will the Bushido Blade be found in time or will the Russians move in and sign a treaty before the American’s?
This period film is filled with Edio period customs and lavish sets. Shusei Kotani’s direction in uninspired and the film is filled with a few bad performances most notably Richard Boone (in his final film). Sonny Chiba who is ironically listed in the credits as Sony Chiba is the films only saving grace. He gets a chance to show his master samurai sword fighting skills and when he is injured he shows why he is as always one tough bastard. Toshirô Mifune has next to no screen time and Laura Gemser holds her own as a half breed samurai warrior. The films pompous score feels out of place and sounds too much like a victory march. The main focus of East meets West is a concept that has been explored in many films before and The Bushido Blade brings nothing new to the table.
First off Wellspring’s The Bushido Blade is the shorter 90 minute television version and not the complete 104 minutes version released theatrically in the USA. This DVD is slightly cropped and at times the full frame transfer makes the action look cramped. The colors are washed out and the image is soft through out. Minor print Damage and grain is present through out.
The films original English language track is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. There is some minor noise and problems with distortion, still nothing that totally takes the viewer out of the film. Extras include filmographies for Richard Boone, Sonny Chiba, Frank Converse, James Earl Jones and Toshiro Mifune.
This is essential a bare bones DVD as the extras are sparse and non-existent. The Bushido Blade on the surface is solid idea for a story that is blessed with a solid cast including the re-teaming of Sonny Chiba and Toshiro Mifune who had previously worked on Shogun’s Samurai. Unfortunately many actors especially Toshiro Mifune is underused. Overall this is sub-par DVD release that is cut by almost 14 minutes and the transfer looks worse then a worn out video rental.