Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Home Vision Entertainment presents
Ronin Gai (1989)

"Gone are men of valor, never, never to return..."
- Bull (Shintaro Katsu)

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: June 08, 2005

Stars: Shintaro Katsu, Yoshio Harada, Kanako Higuchi, Eisei Amamoto, Renji Ishibashi, Kaoru Sugita
Director: Kazuo Kuroki

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (bloody samurai violence, some sensuality/nudity)
Run Time: 01h:56m:39s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 037429196328
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Ronin Gai begins with a dedication to Shozo Makino, the father of Japanese cinema and director of the original version of this tale, produced in 1928. This remake aims to pay tribute to the late Makino, who pioneered the period drama; it is a genre that has found great success in Japan, a country whose history is as rich as it is bloody. Directed by Kazuo Kuroki, this new incarnation of Ronin Gai would be an intentional throwback to the days of period picture glory, dominated by masters such as Kurosawa and Mizoguchi. The former master, Akira himself, is clearly admired by Kuroki, whose style aims to capture the essence of the late legend.

The story is somewhat fragmented, relying on an ensemble cast of colorful characters. Aramaki Gennai (Yoshio Harada) is your average scoundrel. Dirty, sweaty, and without work, he is one ronin among many, foraging for scraps among the poverty stricken countryside of feudal Japan. Civil war has died down, and the period of Restoration is approaching, but upheaval is still at hand. In a local brothel, Aramaki reunites with his long lost love Oshin (Kanako Higuchi), a fetching prostitute who fetches an even higher price. It is a love/hate relationship; Oshin cannot explain her love for Aramaki, and even when other, more socially acceptable suitors come her way, such as the pensive samurai Horo (Renji Ishibashi), she cannot abandon him.

Love is in the air. The bouncer at this fine establishment, the eccentric Bull (Shintaro Katsu), is enamored by Obun (Kaoru Sugita), whose brother is yet another ronin who must bribe his way back into favor with his former master. When Obun is forced to take extreme measures to survive, Bull works up a scheme to help the beauty's poor brother and to get a little something for himself. Before he can attend to his plan, several prostitutes turn up murdered. A gang of ruthless samurai seem to be the convenient culprits, and this eclectic crew of misfits must band together to find the truth, defeat their enemies, and regain their honor.

This is a decent jidai geki film, but despite all its potential, the tale never quite takes off. Kuroki's style, which aims to capture Kurosawa's tendencies (including the use of long lenses), is problematic. His approach is a suitable copy, but lacks the spirit and voice so readily apparent in Kurosawa's masterworks. The script even goes so far as to incorporate Kurosawa films into the dialogue; Seven Samurai and Stray Dog are quite noticeable. True, expecting an epic on the level of Yojimbo is probably too much to ask, but it's difficult to avoid comparisons. Another disappointing attribute is the film's rather slow pacing. The premise promises bouts of bloody samurai action, but excluding the hyperactive final battle, the few sword fights we are privy to are rather lifeless and short lived.

Despite some sleepiness, the film's production values and performances are solid. Shintaro Katsu, star of the Zatoichi and Hanzo series, is nearly unrecognizable here, but his familiar comedic charm and charisma shine through. Yoshio Harada, who plays the bold Aramaki, does his best Mifune impression throughout. This is by no means a failure, but Kuroki's heart just doesn't seem to be in the kimono and katana. Where The Sword of Doom's stylized strains utilized Kurosawa veterans to their fullest, Kuroki's copy of Kurosawa's style remains somewhat flat. This may be a passable diversion for all you samurai fans out there, but it will make you appreciate Kurosawa all the more.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Home Vision's anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is quite pleasing, showcasing bold colors and deep blacks. Detail is decent, if a bit muted. There is also some combing during scenes of fast-motion; this is a minor quibble.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japaneseno

Audio Transfer Review: The Japanese Dolby 2.0 track is clear and bright, complete with the cartoonish slashes and screams we've come to expect.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert with an essay by film critic Mark Pollard
Extras Review: Aside from the shiny anamorphic theatrical trailer, the only extra is an insert with an essay by Mark Pollard. His comments are helpful, shedding some light on the film's cinematic context. The cover art is quite striking.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A passable throwback to the glory days of jidai geki, Ronin Gai comes off as an interesting diversion. A lack of soul and energy hampers its excitement, but fine performances and production values make this worth a look. If Kurosawa had continued painting instead of directing, this would probably play better. Home Vision's presentation remains honorable.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store