Yoshimitsu Morita’s remake of Sanjuro opened in Japan yesterday, and Daily Yomiuri online has already posted a review. As the title of the review (“Kurosawa remake avoids worst scenario”) suggests, the verdict is slightly positive, but also one that questions the actual need for the remake.
In fact, it seems that Tsubaki Sanjuro is pretty much what we had expected. The review confirms it to be an almost “line to line, cut to cut and angle to angle” copy of the original. This, of course, with the exception that Yuji Oda, like the trailers already suggested, does not command the same screen presence as did Toshiro Mifune, thus completely undermining his character’s role in the movie.
The review also makes an interesting point — although the remake uses the same script as the original, it is almost half an hour longer! Whether this is because of modern films’ generally lengthier opening and closing titles, or because the remake doesn’t have Kurosawa’s almost perfect pacing, it doesn’t say.