(Hiorshi Inagaki, 1955)
These early Criterion DVDs really remind you just how bad VHS was. It's hard to believe while you are struggling to watch some of the scenes in this already naturally dark movie that this was actually a massive step up from the earlier format, when blurry images and vague subtitles reigned supreme (and don't get me started on the color red). In fact, searching around the internet produces some comparison screengrabs that demonstrate that not only was this a step up from VHS, it's also an improvement over non-region and foreign DVD releases of the same film, indicating that we will have to wait until Criterion does a redo or some other company takes up the charge to see the film in a truly magnificent version.
And that's really what the potential is for this trilogy, as this is a visual spectacle of the kind only produced in the early color era. The plot honestly doesn't do much for me, mostly because the females are flopping around moping so much that the movie feels like a Joan Crawford samurai picture. It's just too old-fashioned for me, and the movie as a whole is only saved by the visuals. I preferred the first part, but I'm hoping the conclusion carries on with the spectacle without dwelling too much on the melodrama.