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Three Outlaw Samurai [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2:35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Unrated
  • Run Time: 93 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 14th, 2012
  • List Price: $29.95

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Criterion Collection: Three Outlaw Samurai - Widescreen

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Three_Outlaw_Samurai_Criterion_01

Hideo Gosha’s classic Three Outlaw Samurai tells the story of three different samurai, from opposite sides of the samurai world. Sakon Shiba (Tetsuro Tamba) stumbles upon a group of peasants whom have kidnapped the daughter of a high ranking magistrate in hopes of seeing a reduction of taxes. Clearly wanting to regain the magistrate’s daughter, Sakon wants to do this the honorable way. The dictator wants nothing more than his daughter back in his arms, so he hires two other samurai in Kyojuro Sakura (Isamu Nagato) and Einosuke Kikyo (Mikijiro Hira). It turns out that Kyojuro and Einosuke are known for certain methods (i.e. killing) of extraction. Mixing in the idea of loyalty with a few truly awesome action sequences, Three Outlaw Samurai is quite the enjoyable film.

Upon initial glance, I wasn’t that interested in what Samurai had to offer. Perhaps it was because I’ve seen many samurai films, only most of them from modern times. Or the idea of watching a black and white film (yes, I know not the best reason). Well, whatever it may be, I’ll have to admit I really enjoyed what Hideo Gosha had to offer, in particular the way he shot his action moments. While not as explosive as ‘action’ today, the sequences here have more of a real feel and effect to them. It’s almost how horror today just doesn’t have the same scares that older horror had.

(For a different take, read Three Outlaw Samurai [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review by Brandon DuHamel)

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Three_Outlaw_Samurai_Criterion_02

The 2:35:1 framed, AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer is solid throughout. Despite being black and white, there is a fine amount of detail in this transfer. Whether exterior wide shots or close up interior shots, flesh tones are accurate. Contrast levels are equally impressive as all the characters have a natural look and feel to them. I didn’t notice any instances of noise, grain or any other anomalies that might otherwise hinder this presentation. The film’s print is also in fine condition having been served a job well done from the folks at Criterion. All in all, this is the best this classic film has ever looked.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Three_Outlaw_Samurai_Criterion_03

The film’s provided Japanese LPCM 1.0 is quite good, despite myself thinking that a 1.0 track couldn’t do much. Dialogue is well reproduced, with included English subtitles, via the center channel. Outside of the clean dialogue, there really isn’t much else to report here. I didn’t notice any hiss or crackling. Overall, this is a simple presentation that suits the film fine.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Three_Outlaw_Samurai_Criterion_04

The included supplements are presented in HD.

  • Trailer – The film’s original trailer is shown.
  • Booklet – An included booklet featuring an essay from film critic Bilge Ebiri.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

Three_Outlaw_Samurai_Criterion_05

While the supplemental features may be lacking, especially for a Criterion release, the strength of both the film and the technical presentation make this latest Criterion title one worth owning.

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product]B00687XNQM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Criterion Collection: Three Outlaw Samurai - Widescreen

Purchase Three Outlaw Samurai on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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