Shogun's Samurai The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy – Discotek Media (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1978
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Kinji Fukasaku, Hiro Matsuda,Tatsuo Nogami
Cast: Sonny Chiba, Toshirô Mifune, Kinnosuke Nakamura, Etsuko Shihomi, Tetsuro Tamba
Release Date: September 27th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 129 Minutes 56 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Japanese
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $24.95
"An epic film of greed and power, starring some of the biggest names in classic Japanese cinema! Following the death of the Shogunate, it became evident that his death was no accident. He was poisoned because he wanted his eldest son to be heir to his throne. A war between the eldest and his younger brother erupts. Warriors take to each side swearing devotion to the prospective lords. The plot to pit brother against brother is secretly being controlled by the Yagyu clan, a group of warriors who have trained the Shogunate’s family in the art of swordsmanship. A group of imperial nobles are also secretly pulling the strings of this plot, hoping to weaken the power of the Shogunate and restore power to the emperor." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "brand new remastered version is available in 1080p high definition for the first time on Blu-ray!".
Shogun's Samurai The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy comes on a 25 GB single layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 21.8 GB
Feature: 20.4 GB
Though the source looks clean, this transfer exhibits many of the same traits that plagued other Toei films released on Blu-ray in North America. Though Colors fare well, there are a few moments where they don’t look as strong as they should. Also, the image generally looks crisp, black levels are best described as adequate, and there appears to be some digital noise reduction.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Japanese, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. The audio sounds clean, clear, and balanced. Range-wise, action set pieces are well-represented.
Extras for this release include theatrical teaser 1 (2 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), theatrical teaser 2 (3 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), a theatrical trailer (5 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), a text based extra titled Historical Notes written by Zack Davisson, and a slipcover.
Kinji Fukasaku was the reigning king of Yakuza films when he proposed to Toei studio a Battle without Honor and Humanity style story set in the Edo Period. Kinji Fukasaku’s only other foray into the Edo period at that point was as the host of the television series Hissatsu!, which he helped create. Toei was also ready for a change after the disaster of The Bullet Train at the box office, and with the success of Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy, Toei had successfully reinvented itself as a studio. Sonny Chiba and Toshirô Mifune, besides working together on Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy, also co-starred in 1978’s The Fall of Ako Castle (also directed by Kinji Fukasaku) and, three years later, The Bushido Blade. Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy's box office success would help launch, a year after its release, the television series Yagyuu Conspiracy.
Kinji Fukasaku is a master craftsman who creates a world that is so authentic through his visual style that the viewer becomes totally absorbed in the experience. Cinematographer Toru Nakajima, who frequently worked with Kinji Fukasaku, gives Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy an elegance and style that helps give this epic tale depth through his compositions. Composer Toshiaki Tsushima, who had previously written scores for The Street Fighter and Battles without Honor and Humanity, composes a score for Shogun’s Samurai that sets the mood while adding to the film's intensity.
Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy is a character-driven film that has an amazing cast, including Sonny Chiba, Toshirô Mifune, Tetsuro Tamba, Kinnosuke Yorozuya, Etsuko Shihomi, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Performance wise, the entire cast is excellent. And though Sonny Chiba’s screen time is limited, he delivers a scene-stealing performance that stands out as the most memorable.
Myths and facts have been used to their best advantage in this expertly crafted tale that is loaded with enough twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing what will happen next. My favorite moment is when Jubei is met in the woods by one of the Emperor's noblemen. Then Jubei takes his hat off, which has shiny blades inside of it, and throws it at the nobleman, who deflects it into a tree, and the blades in the hat reflect sunlight into the nobleman’s eyes as Jubei finishes him off. Ultimately, Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking from one of Japan's greatest filmmakers.
Shogun's Samurai: The Yagyu Clan Conspiracy makes its way to Blu-ray via a release that comes with no substantial extras and a serviceable audio/video presentation.
Written by Michael Den Boer