Dora-Heita (2001) DVD Nov 16, 2010 0:22:42 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Nov 16, 2010 0:22:42 GMT -5
Dora-Heita was written in 1969 by Akira Kurosawa, Kon Ichikawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, and Masaki Kobayashi as the first collaborative project for their newly formed production company. It was intended to be filmed around 1970, but the box office failure of Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den that year put an end to their production company after only one film. The screenplay was filed away - with Kon Ichikawa apparently never giving up on the idea of actually filming it.
It wasn't until after the deaths of all three of his co-writers that Ichikawa finally found a way to get the production financed, and it's a good thing that he did because Dora-Heita is one fun Samurai movie! Sure, it may not be up to the level of Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, or Samurai Rebellion, but it is still an above average Samurai movie with a good script (not as good as what these four legends did previously, but still a good script), and some nice twists and turns.
The performances in the movie are all good, and Koji Yakusho gives a fine performance as "Dora Heita." Could Toshiro Mifune have done a better job with the role back in 1970? Probably, but the movie wasn't made then, and while Yakusho doesn't have the physical presence of Mifune, he still did a good job of making the character come to life.
The DVD from AnimEigo is excellent. The anamorphic widescreen picture is crisp, clean, and sharp. The subtitles, as with most AnimEigo releases, are second to none. Good translations, different colors for different characters during conversations, and not only are the signs and books translated, but terms unique to Japan are noted at the top of the screen.
In the end, while not up to the lofty standards of Kurosawa and Kobayashi's great Samurai epics, and while not quite up to the standards of recent Samurai movies like Twilight Samurai, When the Last Sword is Drawn, and The Hidden Blade, Dora-Heita is still pretty close, and a very entertaining movie. It's also a nice bit of history come to life - a lost gem that made it to the screen thanks to the perserverance of Kon Ichikawa!