Steven Okazaki directed this excellent documentary about the famous Japanese actor, Toshirô Mifune and it’s narrated by Keanu Reeves. As a lover of Japanese films, seeing this picture was an absolute must and I must point out that many of my favorite Japanese movies starred this incredibly talented man. However, in many ways it’s a film less for folks like me, as I’ve seen almost all the films they discussed in the documentary. Instead, it would be a perfect introduction to his films and would provide you with many great recommendations of pictures you simply have to watch! And, as I already love and respect Mifune, the film didn’t do much to change this!
Mifune: The Last Samurai
Wataru Akashi, Kyôko Kagawa, Takeshi Katô
27 April 2017
Martin's Grade: A
I should point out that if you want a more biographical look at the man, this may not completely satisfy you. You do learn about his life but I never exactly felt like I truly knew the man as I watched. Instead, it’s much more of a filmography and as such highlighted his very best films and discussed them and their impact…as well as how Mifune was able to make the most in his performances. In fact, when you do learn personal information, it’s mostly negative, such as his very heavy drinking and marital infidelity. I would have loved to hear more from his son, Shiro, in order to learn more about who Toshirô really was off camera. Shiro is featured….but I wanted to hear much more. In addition to interviews with the son, you hear from many actors who worked with him as well as from American directors like Spielberg and Scorsese! Wow…you wonder how Okazaki was able to get all this great contributors!
Overall, this is a very well crafted film with lots of beautiful film clips, excellent graphics and editing and is really a must-see for anyone interested in international cinema. It’s also a must-see for anyone who loves the films of Akira Kurosawa, as many of their best films were collaborations and are discussed in detail in this lovely documentary.