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Twilight Samurai, The 
Written by: on October 20th, 2007

Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, November 2nd, 2002
Director: Yôji Yamada
Writers: Yôji Yamada, Yoshitaka Asama (Based from the Novels of Shuuhei Fujisawa)
Cast: Hiroyuki Sanada, Rie Miyazawa, Nenji Kobayashi, Ren Osugi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Kanako Fukaura, Hiroshi Kanbe, Miki Itô, Erina Hashiguchi

DVD released: December 28th, 2004
Approximate running time: 129 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English (Burned in)
DVD Release: Empire Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95

Synopsis: Years before the Meiji Restoration, after Tasogare Seibei’s (Hiroyuki Sanada) wife dies of consumption, Seibei provides for his family with no qualms. Nicknamed Twilight for his early return home from his job at the grain warehouse, the return of Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) presents new challenges in his humble lifestyle.

“Harry” Hiroyuki Sanada’s performance as Tasogare Seibei was a character unlike his prior roles with Sonny Chiba and the Japan Action Club. Seibei’s love was to nurture his two daughters and elderly grandmother, despite his own economic shortcomings. Strangely, his financial problems also prevents him from marring a female Childhood companion Tomoe (Rie Miyazawa) in spite of his deep feelings for her. While this viewpoint is unlike any other Samurai film prior to it, Seibei’s difficulties and challenges are similar to the same struggles and sacrifices that everyone faces at some point of their lives.

In conclusion, Sanada’s warm felt expressions and mannerisms produced an award winning performance. Yôji Yamada was determined to fashion a story where a good Samurai isn’t a man of warfare, but is instead humbled by the finality of death. It’s no surprise that parallels have been drawn between The Twilight Samurai and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

The DVD:

The Twilight Samurai is a revival of Classic Japanese Cinema where drama leads as the action trails behind. Twilight focuses primarily on the lowliest samurai and disreguards the lords and warlords that other Samurai films concentrate on. Twilight’s emotionally driven screenplay, Sanada’s strong performance and Yamada’s vision provided numberous awards and nominations around the world.

Ultimately, Twilight’s inferior transfer by Empire Pictures is sub par for this classic that I cannot recommend this version of the film. After some analysis this film, I was floored that the very legible subtitles was encoded into the video, rather than providing a subtitle track. If you’re able to look past these video defects, Yamada’s interview is wonderfully descriptive while Harry Sanada’s interview lacks any substance. This is because Sanada conducted his interview in English rather than his own native tongue. The Twilight Samurai’s presentation lacked what the majestic story delivered. Not recommended to those who love most chambara films or who desire clean transfers. Recommended to those seeking a story of dramatic substance.

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