Sanshiro Sugata (Judo Saga), Part Two

One of the rarest of Kurosawa's early films, this sequel to Sanshiro Sugata is much less interesting than Kurosawa's marvelous debut feature. It is frankly a wartime propaganda film, and Kurosawa apparently found no way to transcend the limitations of the genre. In this film, the character of Sugata - who exemplifies the Japanese martial arts spirit - encounters a bad American sailor tormenting a poor Japanese rickshaw boy (the time is 1887), and teaches the foreign brute a lesson. The film goes on to attack all things foreign, and to make the point, as Donald Richie puts it, that “the subtle, agile Japanese judo will always win over massive, mindless American boxing. This Sugata set out to demonstrate and his line of reasoning is pure Japanese war department. Foreigners must be made to recognize not only the glory of Japanese martial arts, but also that Japan's attitude is entirely benevolent. Japan is the kindly elder brother who chastises only because he must.”

Sanshir Sugata (Judo Saga), Part Two is repeated on Tuesday, April 5.

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