Mifune: The Last Samurai                 review by Bobby Blakey

There are documentaries that come along that are not just a story, but a legacy to the subject matter. This is the case of the latest Mifune: The Last Samurai that tells not only the story of legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, but brings his iconic career to the masses and gives him the legendary status he already has to the masses.

This documentary weaves together clips, archival stills, and interviews with such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese as they discuss the life and career of Toshiro Mifune. For those that sadly don’t know his work he made the samurai film genre what it was with such iconic films as Yojimbo and Seven Samurai which is the original source material for the western The Magnificent Seven. This film not only serves as a great source to tell the story of the life and career of Mifune, but also of the film industry of the time in Japan. Director Steven Ozaki has crafted an interesting and engaging film following Mifune that offers up some great information and visuals all wrapped up in a respectful film that gives him the recognition that Mifune deserves. There was so much to Mifune both good and bad that most may not know about, but should. There isn’t anything standout in relation to the format of the film as it sticks to the pretty by the numbers documentary film style, but that is all that is needed for this film. I loved seeing so many different clips and images that embodied his career with some I had never seen before. Keanu Reeves does a great job narrating the film without trying to make it more than just telling a story which is what it needed.

We look at so many legendary actors and directors in the US, but how often do you sit and think about who inspired them? Mifune’s films not only inspired many filmmakers including George Lucas and the above mentioned Spielberg and Scorsese, but his performance as an actor was like no other and will likely never be. This is a film that should be seen by anyone that loves cinema if for no other reason than just to learn the history of this legendary actor who was so much more than the samurai’s and characters that he brought to life on screen.

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