Samurai Trilogy 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

The second installment of the Samurai series, Samurai Trilogy 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple picks up immediately where part one, Musashi Miyamoto left off.  This film is a continuation of the journey of legendary Japanese samurai, Musashi Miyamoto, also known as Takezo.  Toshiro Mifune excels in his role as Takezo and does an excellent job at portraying the samurai as a historical yet semi mythical figure of Japanese lore.

Duel at Ichijoji Temple chronicles the trials that Musashi Miyamoto encounters throughout his travels which eventually take him to Kyoto.  It is here that Miyamoto looks to expand his reputation and sharpen his samurai skills by taking on an elite school of fencers.  Although his goal is to duel the leader of this school, he finds that they are more interested in setting traps and fighting dirty than actually participating in a duel of honor.  In addition to his travails in battling an entire fencing school, Miyamoto finds himself in the middle of a complex love triangle in which he is fending off the affections of two beautiful young women.  Little does Miyamoto know that throughout all of this he has a new foe waiting for him in darkness.

Duel at Ichijoji Temple is well  made and spectacular in all of its glory but not quite as thrilling as the first installment of the Samurai series.  Released by the Criterion Collection, this film also presents many of the same viewing challenges from a technical perspective.  Once again, much of the film has shifty colors and the contrast is completely out of whack along with overly dark nighttime scenes that makes it difficult perceive what is taking place.  Chalk this up to poor film copies but, nonetheless this is treasure of Japanese cinema.

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~ by asiaflicks on March 28, 2010.

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