DVD Corner's blog

News, dvd and blu-ray reviews

The Blind Menace and The Ultimate Samurai- Miyamoto Musashi 5 Film Collection DVD Reviews


“The Blind Menace” is a fascinating character study.

The 5 film “Miyamoto Musashi” film series is slowly paced, but interesting nonetheless.

The Blind Menace

“The Blind Menace” chronicles the life of a blind man named Suginoichi from childhood to adulthood. Throughout his life, we see how this man goes from being a poor child to a wealthy masseur by being cruel, manipulative, and a murderer.

As I popped in “The Blind Menace,” I honestly had no idea what to expect. I did not know what the film was about other than the fact that it apparently inspired the “Zatoichi” films. Make no mistake though; this film is nothing like “Zatoichi.” There are no samurai here. Instead, ‘Menace’ focuses solely on a villanous lead character that audiences will flat out despise. This is very much a character study about the dark side of humanity and it’s a fascinating one at that. The story is a brutal depiction of how far one person will go to get ahead in life. I don’t want to give away everything Suginoichi does in this film as it will spoil the viewing experience, but suffice it to say, he is one evil dude.

Summary: “The Blind Menace” isn’t the type of film you will watch over and over again, but it’s definitely worth watching once. Recommended.

The 2.35:1 widescreen picture quality is top notch. The B&W cinematography looks crystal clear from start to finish. Yellow/Green or white subtitles   

The Japanese Dolby Digital Mono audio track is a good one. No scratchy audio quality to be found here. It sounds brand new. Note: There are no English dubs here. The only track is a Japanese track with optional yellow/green or white subtitles.

Extras include original theatrical trailer, cast and crew bios, program notes and an image gallery.

The Ultimate Samurai- Miyamoto Musashi 5 Film Collection

This 5 film series is based on the legendary real-life Japanese swordsman/samurai/author Miyamoto Musashi. In the first film, titled “Miyamoto Musashi,” the story revolves around Takezo (who is later named Miyamoto Musashi) and his friend Matahachi. The two men fought on the losing Toytomi side of the Battle Of Sekigahara and have decided to become deserters. In the beginning of the film, the two are taken in by a mother and daughter. After a little while, Matahachi runs away with the two leaving Takezo on his own. To make matters worse, Takezo is being hunted down by soldiers since he is a fugitive. Now, Takeza is essentially forced to isolate himself and live in the mountains as a wild man. Will he be left alone? Will he be captured? Tune into to see.

The second film, “Miyamoto Musashi 2- Duel At Hannya Hill” sees a transformed Takezo who is now known as Miyamoto Musashi. He has been studying for 3 years and is now a full fledged samurai who sets out to hone his skills by challenging the Yoshioka Dojo school master. Unfortunately, the master is not there when he arrives, but he does take on a few students. After that, he focuses his attention on the skilled Monk spear fighters of the Hozo’in Temple.

The third film, “Miyamoto Musashi 3- Birth Of The Nito-Ryu Style,” sees Miyamoto challenging master swordsman Yagyu Sekishuusai to a duel. The Yoshioka master also finally confronts Miyamoto as well. While this going on, a samurai named Sasaki Kojiro is introduced to the viewers. He seems to be studying Miyamoto. Is he planning to fight him? Read on.

The fourth film, “Miyamoto Musashi 4- Duel At Ichijyo-Ji Temple,” sees the entire Yoshioka Dojo school (consisting of 73 students) banding together to try and kill Miyamoto to regain their honor after the death of their masters. All of this happens under the watchful eye of Sasaki Kojiro who finally goes head to head with Miyamoto in the fifth and final film “Miyamoto Musashi 5- Duel At Ganryu Island.”

Aside from the stories mentioned above, there also plenty of subplots revolving around Miyamoto’s love interest Otsu as well as his life in general.

The “Miyamoto Musashi” film series is a strange series to review. You can’t really critique the films individually because they rely so heavily on one another. This is very much a series of films that plays like a television series. The films are essentially about Musashi’s journey through life and the films should be seen together to get the full effect of the epic story being told in these films. Granted, the films do not focus on his entire life, but we get a good glimpse of a certain period in his life.

One could argue that this approach to storytelling is hit-and-miss and you would be right. The pacing can certainly be sluggish. While it’s nice to see fleshed out characters and stories, it does tend to take awhile to get to where the story is headed. Thankfully, the intense, dramatic scenes and duels tend to be worth the wait (especially the epic battle against the 73 students in the fourth film and the legendary duel against Kojiro in the fifth installment).

Summary: Obviously, this film collection is not for everyone, but samurai junkies should certainly give it a chance. If you are interested in the life of Miyamoto Musashi, I would also recommend checking out the Samurai Trilogy starring the great Toshiro Mifune.

The 2:35:1 widescreen picture quality is hit-and-miss on the five films. The fifth and last film looks the best, but I noticed dirt specs and some wavy images in the other four films.

The Japanese Mono audio track is solid. I noticed a few pops and crackles, but that’s a minor complaint. Like with “The Blind Menace,” there is no English dub here either. Only a Japanese Mono track with yellow or white subtitles has been included. 

Extras include original theatrical trailers for all 5 films, image galleries for all 5 films, cast/crew bios, character bios, and an audio commentary on the first film by film historian and DVD Talk writer Start Galbarith IV. The commentary is certainly informative but it’s clearly scripted (which I’m not a big fan of).

June 28, 2010 - Posted by | DVD review | ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: