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The Samurai Pirate
Der Löwe des Gelben Meeres / The Adventures of Sinbad / The Lost World of Sinbad / The Great Thief

Japan 1963
produced by
Tomoyuki Tanaka, Kenichiro Tsunoda dor Toho
directed by Senkichi Taniguchi
starring Toshiro Mifune, Tadao Nakamaru, Mie Hama, Kumi Mizuno, Ichiro Arishima, Eisei Amamoto (as Hideyo Amamoto), Mitsuko Kusabue, Jun Tazaki, Akiko Wakabayashi, Jun Funota, Makoto Sato, Junichiro Mukai, Yutaka Nakayama, Hidezu Kane, Rokumaru Furukawa, Hideo Sunazuka, Eishu Kin, Little Man Machan, Tetsu Nakamura, Takashi Shimura, Haruo Suzuki, Nadano Kirino, Shoji Ikeda, Masashi Oki, Yoshio Kosugi, Yutaka Sada, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Tadanori Kusagawa, Chiyoko Tanabe, Masako Shibaki, Hiroshi Hasegawa, Senkichi Omura, Nakajiro Tomita, Toru Ibuki, Masanari Nihei, Akira Shimada
story by Kikuo Yasumi (= Toshio Yasumi), screenplay by Takeshi Kimura, Shinichi Sekizawa, music by Masaru Sato

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Originally, Sukeza (Toshiro Mifune) just wanted to become a pirate, but after his ship is sunk and his treasure is stolen by the Black Pirate (Makoto Sato), he finds himself stranded on a strange island - where he finds a necklace from his treasure trove around the neck of local Princess Yaya (Mie Hama) - and figures there's something fishy going on.

To get through to the Princess and convince her that the necklace is actually his isn't even the problem, but Sukeza soon finds out there is a big conspiracy in the works and with the help of outlaw Miwa (Kumi Mizuno), who has fallen in love with him, and her gang he tries to uncover the conspiracy and save the Princess - whom he has fallen in love with even though she is promised to Prince Ming (Jun Funota).

Eventually, Sekuza finds out that the Chancellor (Tadao Nakamaru) is secretly running the island, has employed a witch (Eisei Amamoto in drag) to slowly kill the king (Takashi Shimura), and is in league with the Black Pirate who is supposed to see to it that Prince Ming disappears out in the open sea. Sekuza and his gang however rescue Ming and mount an attack on the castle - on the day of the Princess' reluctant wedding to the Chancellor too - that even involves Sekuza flying a hang-glider, while his clumsy wizard friend (Ichiro Arishima) takes care of the witch.

Of course, Sekuza and gang are victorious in the end, but he doesn't get the girl - neither the Princess nor Miwa - and goes back to sea looking for new adventures in the end.

Childish but rather likeable adventure yarn comparable to the peplums (sword-and-sandal-films) that were at the time produced in Italy a dime a dozen - but done with way more care and a higher budget. Actually the film is quite well-looking, is well-paced, well-acted and pretty entertaining in an innocent sort of way. Of course you will probably have forgotten the whole film the very next day, but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable ...


By the way, for the American version Toshiro Mifune's character was rechristened to the more familiar Sinbad - for no narrative reason whatsoever.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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written by
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