Samurai 3: Duel at Ganryu Island

Director: Hiroshi Inagaki
Year Released: 1956
Rating: 3.0

The last piece of this Japanese male soap opera pits Musashi (Toshiro Mifune, first rate throughout) against old rival Kojiro (Koji Tsuruta), against a band of brigands who destroy a peaceful village he built and against these same two women who have haunted him for so long. The argument that this - like the American Westerns, like the Spaghetti Westerns, like other samurai movies - is stridently anti-feminine certainly holds (there's no denying it), but so is the World of Ernest Hemingway: you can either accept it or not. I don't usually get enraptured by the mechanics of scene structure, but I love what Inagaki does for the duel at sunrise: there's a real becalmed majesty to it, and it ends the trilogy on a note of bitter triumph.